? Lina Ni Animals depend on their temperature-sensing systems to avoid noxious thermal extremes and to seek optimal temperatures for survival. Temperature sensation is particularly relevant for small animals, such as insects, which rely on ambient temperatures to set their body temperatures. Many insect vectors of diseases, such as mosquitoes, respond to the temperature of their warm-blooded hosts and use it to guide the blood- feeding behaviors through which they transmit human diseases. Thus, it is important to identify the temperature- sensing molecules and neurons to help control disease vectors. Fruit flies are a suitable model system for these studies, because of their evolutionarily conserved temperature-sensing molecules with mosquito. In flies, many temperature-sensing systems possess a small number of temperature sensory neurons that master robust behaviors. Moreover, the powerful genetics developed in flies ensures the precise manipulation of temperature- sensing molecules and neurons. Preliminary studies from the PI?s lab discovered a set of previously unidentified warm-activated neurons in fly larvae, whose temperature-sensing molecules and functions are unknown. Preliminary data suggested that these neurons depended on a new class of warm-sensing molecules to detect warm temperatures. Besides a classic function of temperature-responsive neurons that determine temperature preference, these neurons may have an additional function to modulate their neighboring cool-activated neurons. Such modulation may result in change of physiological properties in neighboring neurons. The goal of this application is to identify the warm-sensing molecules in these warm-activated neurons, to demonstrate their functions in temperature preference, and to determine their modulatory effects on neighboring neurons. In addition to having preliminary data, we are particularly well-prepared to undertake the proposed research because of our extensive, and successful, track record of studying temperature-responsive molecules and sensory neurons in flies. Since the potential candidates of the warm-sensing molecules are conserved between flies and mosquitoes, this study might provide novel targets to control blood-feeding behaviors of mosquitoes and other disease vectors.

Public Health Relevance

? Lina Ni Many insect vectors of diseases, such as mosquitoes, depend on their temperature-sensing molecules to detect the temperature of their warm-blooded hosts and use it to guide the blood- feeding behaviors through which they transmit human diseases. This project uses a powerful insect genetic model, fruit flies, to study a new class of warm-sensing molecules. These molecules are conserved between flies and mosquitoes so that they may serve as novel targets to control the blood-feeding behaviors of disease vectors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Somatosensory and Pain Systems Study Section (SPS)
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Sesma, Michael A
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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