Distinct signaling of Drosophila chemoreceptors in olfactory sensory neurons

Li Hui Cao, Bi Yang Jing, Dong Yang, Xiankun Zeng, Ying Shen, Yuhai Tu, Dong Gen Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


In Drosophila, olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) rely primarily on two types of chemoreceptors, odorant receptors (Ors) and ionotropic receptors (Irs), to convert odor stimuli into neural activity. The cellular signaling of these receptors in their native OSNs remains unclear because of the difficulty of obtaining intracellular recordings from Drosophila OSNs. Here, we developed an antennal preparation that enabled the first recordings (to our knowledge) from targeted Drosophila OSNs through a patch-clamp technique. We found that brief odor pulses triggered graded inward receptor currents with distinct response kinetics and current-voltage relationships between Or- and Ir-driven responses. When stimulated with long-step odors, the receptor current of Ir-expressing OSNs did not adapt. In contrast, Or-expressing OSNs showed a strong Ca2+-dependent adaptation. The adaptation-induced changes in odor sensitivity obeyed the Weber-Fechner relation; however, surprisingly, the incremental sensitivity was reduced at low odor backgrounds but increased at high odor backgrounds. Our model for odor adaptation revealed two opposing effects of adaptation, desensitization and prevention of saturation, in dynamically adjusting odor sensitivity and extending the sensory operating range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E902-E911
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 16 2016


  • Chemoreceptor
  • Drosophila
  • OSN
  • Olfaction
  • Sensory adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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