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A putative Drosophila pheromone receptor expressed in male-specific taste neurons is required for efficient courtship.

Bray S., Amrein H.

Propagation in higher animals requires the efficient and accurate display of innate mating behaviors. In Drosophila melanogaster, male courtship consists of a stereotypic sequence of behaviors involving multiple sensory modalities, such as vision, audition, and chemosensation. For example, taste bristles located in the male forelegs and the labial palps are thought to recognize nonvolatile pheromones secreted by the female. Here, we report the identification of the putative pheromone receptor GR68a, which is expressed in chemosensory neurons of about 20 male-specific gustatory bristles in the forelegs. Gr68a expression is dependent on the sex determination gene doublesex, which controls many aspects of sexual differentiation and is necessary for normal courtship behavior. Tetanus toxin-mediated inactivation of Gr68a-expressing neurons or transgene-mediated RNA interference of Gr68a RNA leads to a significant reduction in male courtship performance, suggesting that GR68a protein is an essential component of pheromone-driven courtship behavior in Drosophila.

Neuron 39:1019-1029(2003) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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