Our long-term objective is to elucidate how social behaviors, universal features of animals with complex nervous systems, are genetically controlled through the various sensory systems in an organism. As a general strategy, we will utilize Drosophila melanogaster as a model system to elucidate the roles of pheromones and their receptors in social behaviors, such as courtship, mating, aggression etc. In most mammals and insects, the recognition of contact and/or volatile pheromone signals plays a central role in these behaviors. In Drosophila and other insects, members of two families of seven-transmembrane receptors, encoded by the olfactory (Or) and gustatory receptor (Gr) genes, are thought to recognize pheromones. Stimulation of these receptors leads to the activation of neural ensembles in the CNS, which are thought to receive also input from other sensory modalities (i.e. visual and auditory). Finally, a complex neural circuit must integrate the information from these diverse sensory channels and control the elaborate behavioral displays during courtship, aggression and other social interactions between individuals. To understand how such complex, integrated circuits operate is one of the main scientific challenges in modern, molecular neurobiology. We have previously identified a bona fide pheromone receptor, which plays a major role in male courtship. This receptor is encoded by Gr68a, a member of a Gr subfamily, which includes five other Gr genes - Gr32a, Gr39a.a, Gr39a.b, Gr39a.c and Gr39a.d. The central hypothesis of our proposal is that all these Gr genes encode pheromone receptors with specific roles in diverse social behaviors in Drosophila. We shall take a reverse genetic approach to elucidate the roles of these receptors. We will generate knock-out alleles for all six Gr pheromone receptor genes, generate Gr mutant fly strains and perform extensive behavioral analyses with these flies to elucidate Gr gene functions in courtship activation, courtship suppression, aggression, female attraction and other social behaviors. We shall map the axonal projections of Gr-expressing, pheromone-sensing neurons and identify neuronal targets that form synapses with their axons. Finally, we shall identify the main chemical compounds that are recognized by these GR pheromone receptors, and hence, represent the cues that activate these neural circuits. This grant will investigate the specific role of pheromone receptors in complex social behaviors including sexual behavior, aggression and rejection, using the Drosophila as a model system. The proposed studies will employ extensive genetic analyses, behavioral experiments and neuroanatomical investigations to identify the function of these receptors, with the goal to reveal links between receptors and behavior. Our work will significantly expand our rather poor knowledge of pheromone-guided complex behavior and neural circuits that control them, a hot topic in the field of behavioral and molecular neuroscience.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IFCN-K (03))
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Sullivan, Susan L
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Texas A&M University
Other Basic Sciences
Schools of Medicine
College Station
United States
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Fujii, Shinsuke; Yavuz, Ahmet; Slone, Jesse et al. (2015) Drosophila sugar receptors in sweet taste perception, olfaction, and internal nutrient sensing. Curr Biol 25:621-7
Chen, Yan; Amrein, Hubert (2014) Enhancing perception of contaminated food through acid-mediated modulation of taste neuron responses. Curr Biol 24:1969-77
Miyamoto, Tetsuya; Amrein, Hubert (2014) Diverse roles for the Drosophila fructose sensor Gr43a. Fly (Austin) 8:19-25
Yavuz, Ahmet; Jagge, Christopher; Slone, Jesse et al. (2014) A genetic tool kit for cellular and behavioral analyses of insect sugar receptors. Fly (Austin) 8:189-96
Miyamoto, Tetsuya; Wright, Geraldine; Amrein, Hubert (2013) Nutrient sensors. Curr Biol 23:R369-73
Miyamoto, Tetsuya; Chen, Yan; Slone, Jesse et al. (2013) Identification of a Drosophila glucose receptor using Ca2+ imaging of single chemosensory neurons. PLoS One 8:e56304
Mishra, Dushyant; Miyamoto, Tetsuya; Rezenom, Yohannes H et al. (2013) The molecular basis of sugar sensing in Drosophila larvae. Curr Biol 23:1466-71
Miyamoto, Tetsuya; Slone, Jesse; Song, Xiangyu et al. (2012) A fructose receptor functions as a nutrient sensor in the Drosophila brain. Cell 151:1113-25
Wang, Liming; Han, Xiaoqing; Mehren, Jennifer et al. (2011) Hierarchical chemosensory regulation of male-male social interactions in Drosophila. Nat Neurosci 14:757-62
Fujii, Shinsuke; Amrein, Hubert (2010) Ventral lateral and DN1 clock neurons mediate distinct properties of male sex drive rhythm in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107:10590-5

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