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Hussain, Ashiq; Zhang, Mo; Ücpunar, Habibe K.; Svensson, Thomas; Quillery, Elsa; Gompel, Nicolas; Ignell, Rickard; Kadow, Ilona C. Grunwald (2016): Ionotropic Chemosensory Receptors Mediate the Taste and Smell of Polyamines.
In: PLOS Biology 14(5), e1002454
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Abstract

The ability to find and consume nutrient-rich diets for successful reproduction and survival is fundamental to animal life. Among the nutrients important for all animals are polyamines, a class of pungent smelling compounds required in numerous cellular and organismic processes. Polyamine deficiency or excess has detrimental effects on health, cognitive function, reproduction, and lifespan. Here, we show that a diet high in polyamine is beneficial and increases reproductive success of flies, and we unravel the sensory mechanisms that attract Drosophila to polyamine-rich food and egg-laying substrates. Using a combination of behavioral genetics and in vivo calcium imaging, we demonstrate that Drosophila uses multisensory detection to find and evaluate polyamines present in overripe and fermenting fruit, their favored feeding and egg-laying substrate. In the olfactory system, two coexpressed ionotropic receptors (IRs), IR76b and IR41a, mediate the long-range attraction to the odor. In the gustatory system, multimodal taste sensation by IR76b receptor and GR66a bitter receptor neurons is used to evaluate quality and valence of the polyamine providing a mechanism for the fly's high attraction to polyamine-rich and sweet decaying fruit. Given their universal and highly conserved biological roles, we propose that the ability to evaluate food for polyamine content may impact health and reproductive success also of other animals including humans.