Ionotropic Receptors Mediate Drosophila Oviposition Preference through Sour Gustatory Receptor Neurons
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Carboxylic acids are present in many foods, being especially abundant in fruits. Yet, relatively little is known about how acids are detected by gustatory systems and whether they have a potential role in nutrition or provide other health benefits. Here we identify sour gustatory receptor neurons (GRNs) in tarsal taste sensilla of Drosophila melanogaster. We find that most tarsal sensilla harbor a sour GRN that is specifically activated by carboxylic and mineral acids but does not respond to sweet- and bitter-tasting chemicals or salt. One pair of taste sensilla features two GRNs that respond only to a subset of carboxylic acids and high concentrations of salt. All sour GRNs prominently express two Ionotropic Receptor (IR) genes, IR76b and IR25a, and we show that both these genes are necessary for the detection of acids. Furthermore, we establish that IR25a and IR76b are essential in sour GRNs of females for oviposition preference on acid-containing food. Our investigations reveal that acids activate a unique set of taste cells largely dedicated to sour taste, and they indicate that both pH/proton concentration and the structure of carboxylic acids contribute to sour GRN activation. Together, our studies provide new insights into the cellular and molecular basis of sour taste.
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