Distinct combinations of variant ionotropic glutamate receptors mediate thermosensation and hygrosensation in Drosophila

Abstract:

Ionotropic Receptors (IRs) are a large subfamily of variant ionotropicglutamate receptors present across Protostomia. While these receptors are mostextensively studied for their roles in chemosensory detection in insects, recent work has implicated two family members, IR21a and IR25a, in thermosensation in Drosophila. Here we characterize one of the most deeply conserved receptors, IR93a, and show that it is co-expressed and functions with IR21a and IR25a to mediate physiological and behavioral responses to cool temperatures. IR93a is also co-expressed with IR25a and a distinct receptor, IR40a, in a discrete population of sensory neurons in the sacculus, a multi-chambered pocket within the antenna. We demonstrate that this combination of receptors is important for neuronal responses to dry air and behavioral discrimination of humidity differences. Our results identify IR93a as a common component of molecularlyand cellularly distinct IR pathways underlying thermosensation and hygrosensation in insects. 

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