A genetic tool kit for cellular and behavioral analyses of insect sugar receptors. Academic Article uri icon


  • Arthropods employ a large family of up to 100 putative taste or gustatory receptors (Grs) for the recognition of a wide range of non-volatile chemicals. In Drosophila melanogaster, a small subfamily of 8 Gr genes is thought to mediate the detection of sugars, the fly's major nutritional source. However, the specific roles for most sugar Gr genes are not known. Here, we report the generation of a series of mutant sugar Gr knock-in alleles and several composite sugar Gr mutant strains, including a sugar blind strain, which will facilitate the characterization of this gene family. Using Ca(2+) imaging experiments, we show that most gustatory receptor neurons (GRNs) of sugar blind flies (lacking all 8 sugar Gr genes) fail to respond to any sugar tested. Moreover, expression of single sugar Gr genes in most sweet GRNs of sugar-blind flies does not restore sugar responses. However, when pair-wise combinations of sugar Gr genes are introduced to sweet GRNs, responses to select sugars are restored. We also examined the cellular phenotype of flies homozygous mutant for Gr64a, a Gr gene previously reported to be a major contributor for the detection of many sugars. In contrast to these claims, we find that sweet GRNs of Gr64a homozygous mutant flies show normal responses to most sugars, and only modestly reduced responses to maltose and maltotriose. Thus, the precisely engineered genetic mutations of single Gr genes and construction of a sugar-blind strain provide powerful analytical tools for examining the roles of Drosophila and other insect sugar Gr genes in sweet taste.

published proceedings

  • Fly (Austin)

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Yavuz, A., Jagge, C., Slone, J., & Amrein, H.

citation count

  • 30

complete list of authors

  • Yavuz, Ahmet||Jagge, Christopher||Slone, Jesse||Amrein, Hubert

publication date

  • October 2014

published in

  • Fly  Journal