Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - NEURONAL IDENTITY (Regulation of odorant receptor choice)

Can a Fruit fly give us answer how an olfactory system is created? Yes, our research point in that direction. Although flies use their antenna to detect odours and we our nose the principal organisation is the same: all neurons that respond to one and the same odour express the same odorant receptor and are converging their axons to one point in the brain thus creating an odorant map. The largest difference is that humans have about 500 different Odorant receptors and thus groups of olfactory neurons where as a fruit fly only has 52, a number that is small enough to be grasped and overviewed. The restricted size is important if one wants to understand how each group of neurons are generated, how can one create different neuronal types?

To address this issue we have combined the small olfactory system with a novel genetic technology in Fruit fly, transgenic RNAi. This technology makes it possible to remove the function of any gene anywhere in the fly. In this way we have found 7 regulatory genes so called transcription factors which have been shown to be necessary to create olfactory neurons. Furthermore different combinations of factors seem to decide which group of olfactory neurons that the neuron will belong to. In other words each neuron in the antenna might be determined by a regulatory code of factors.

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