In many species sensory stimuli elicit the oscillatory synchronization of groups of neurons. What determines the properties of these oscillations? In the olfactory system of the moth we found that odors elicited oscillatory synchronization through a neural mechanism like that described in locust and Drosophila. During responses to long odor pulses, oscillations suddenly slowed as net olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) output decreased; thus, stimulus intensity appeared to determine oscillation frequency. However, changing the concentration of the odor had little effect upon oscillatory frequency. Our recordings in vivo and computational models based on these results suggested the main effect of increasing odor concentration was to recruit additional, less well-tuned ORNs whose firing rates were tightly constrained by adaptation and saturation. Thus, in the periphery, concentration is encoded mainly by the size of the responsive ORN population, and oscillation frequency is set by the adaptation and saturation of this response.
Odors elicit spatio-temporal patterns of activity in the brain. Spatial patterns arise from the specificity of the interaction between odorants and odorant receptors expressed in different olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). But the origin of temporal patterns of activity and their role in odor coding remain unclear. We investigate how physiological aspects of ORN response and physical aspects of odor stimuli give rise to diverse responses in Drosophila ORNs. We show that odor stimuli have intrinsic dynamics that depend on odor type and strongly affect ORN response. Using linear-nonlinear modeling to remove the contribution of the stimulus dynamics from the ORN dynamics we study the physiological properties of the response to different odorants and concentrations. For several odorants and receptor types the ORN response dynamics normalized by the peak response are independent of stimulus intensity for a large portion of the neuron’s dynamic range. Adaptation to a background odor changes the gain and dynamic range of the response but does not affect normalized response dynamics. Stimulating ORNs with various odorants reveals significant odor-dependent delays in the ORN response functions. These differences however can be dominated by differences in stimulus dynamics. In one case the response of one ORN to two odorants is predicted solely from measurements of the odor signals. Within a large portion of their dynamic range ORNs can capture information about stimulus dynamics independently from intensity while introducing odor-dependent delays. How insects might use odor-specific stimulus dynamics and ORN dynamics in discrimination and navigation tasks remains an open question.
Olfaction depends on the differential activation of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and on the proper transmission of their activities to the brain. ORNs select individual receptors to express, and they send axons to particular targets in the brain. Little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying either process. We have identified a new Drosophila POU gene, pdm3, that is expressed in ORNs. Genetic analysis shows that pdm3 is required for odor response in one class of ORNs. We find that pdm3 acts in odor receptor expression in this class, and that the odor response can be rescued by the receptor. Another POU gene, acj6, is required for receptor expression in the same class, and we find a genetic interaction between the two POU genes. The results support a role for a POU gene code in receptor gene choice. pdm3 is also expressed in other ORN classes in which it is not required for receptor expression. For two of these classes pdm3 is required for normal axon targeting. Thus this mutational analysis, the first for a POU class VI gene, demonstrates a role for pdm3 in both of the processes that define the functional organization of ORNs in the olfactory system.
POU gene; odor receptor; axon targeting; Drosophila; maxillary palp; antenna
Odor responses of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) exhibit complex dynamics. Using genetics and pharmacology, we show that these dynamics in Drosophila ORNs can be separated into sequential steps, corresponding to transduction and spike generation. Each of these steps contributes distinct dynamics. Transduction dynamics can be largely explained by a simple kinetic model of ligand-receptor interactions, together with an adaptive feedback mechanism that slows transduction onset. Spiking dynamics are well-described by a differentiating linear filter that is stereotyped across odors and cells. Genetic knock-down of sodium channels reshapes this filter, implying that it arises from the regulated balance of intrinsic conductances in ORNs. Complex responses can be understood as a consequence of how the stereotyped spike filter interacts with odor- and receptor-specific transduction dynamics. However, in the presence of rapidly fluctuating natural stimuli, spiking simply increases the speed and sensitivity of encoding.
When stimulated with odorants, olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) produce a depolarizing receptor current. In isolated ORNs, much of this current is due to an efflux of Cl−. This implies that the neurons have one or more mechanisms for accumulating cytoplasmic Cl− at rest. Whether odors activate an efflux of Cl− in intact olfactory epithelium, where the ionic environment is poorly characterized, has not been previously determined. In mouse olfactory epithelium, we find that >80% of the summated electrical response to odors is blocked by niflumic acid or flufenamic acid, each of which inhibits Ca2+-activated Cl− channels in ORNs. This indicates that ORNs accumulate Cl− in situ. Recent evidence has shown that NKCC1, a Na+-K+-2Cl− cotransporter, contributes to Cl− accumulation in mammalian ORNs. However, we find that the epithelial response to odors is only reduced by 39% in mice carrying a null mutation in Nkcc1. As in the wild type, most of the response is blocked by niflumic acid or flufenamic acid, indicating that the underlying current is carried by Cl−. We conclude that ORNs effectively accumulate Cl− in situ even in the absence of NKCC1. The Cl−-transport mechanism underlying this accumulation has not yet been identified.
The locust olfactory system interfaces with the external world through antennal receptor neurons (ORNs), which represent odors in a distributed, combinatorial manner. ORN axons bundle together to form the antennal nerve, which relays sensory information centrally to the antennal lobe (AL). Within the AL, an odor generates a dynamically evolving ensemble of active cells, leading to a stimulus-specific temporal progression of neuronal spiking. This experimental observation has led to the hypothesis that an odor is encoded within the AL by a dynamically evolving trajectory of projection neuron (PN) activity that can be decoded piecewise to ascertain odor identity. In order to study information coding within the locust AL, we developed a scaled-down model of the locust AL using Hodgkin–Huxley-type neurons and biologically realistic connectivity parameters and current components. Using our model, we examined correlations in the precise timing of spikes across multiple neurons, and our results suggest an alternative to the dynamic trajectory hypothesis. We propose that the dynamical interplay of fast and slow inhibition within the locust AL induces temporally stable correlations in the spiking activity of an odor-dependent neural subset, giving rise to a temporal binding code that allows rapid stimulus detection by downstream elements.
antennal lobe; temporal binding; computational neuroscience; odor coding; slow temporal patterns; oscillations; synchrony; time scales of inhibition
Olfactory stimulation induces an odor-guided crawling behavior of Drosophila melanogaster larvae characterized by either an attractive or a repellent reaction. In order to understand the underlying processes leading to these orientations we stimulated single olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) through photo-activation within an intact neuronal network. Using the Gal4-UAS system two light inducible proteins, the light-sensitive cation channel channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR-2) or the light-sensitive adenylyl cyclase (Pacα) were expressed in all or in individual ORNs of the larval olfactory system. Blue light stimulation caused an activation of these neurons, ultimately producing the illusion of an odor stimulus. Larvae were tested in a phototaxis assay for their orientation toward or away from the light source. Here we show that activation of Pacα expressing ORNs bearing the receptors Or33b or Or45a in blind norpA mutant larvae induces a repellent behavior away from the light. Conversely, photo-activation of the majority of ORNs induces attraction towards the light. Interestingly, in wild type larvae two ligands of Or33b and Or45a, octyl acetate and propionic ethylester, respectively, have been found to cause an escape reaction. Therefore, we combined light and odor stimulation to analyze the function of Or33b and Or45a expressing ORNs. We show that the larval olfactory system contains a designated neuronal pathway for repellent odorants and that activation of a specific class of ORNs already determines olfactory avoidance behavior.
Drosophila; olfaction; photo-activation; optogenetics; olfactory behavior; electrophysiology; channelrhodopsin-2; photo-activated adenylyl cyclase
Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) selectively evokes an inward (excitatory) current in cultured lobster olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and directly activates two types of channels in cell-free patches of plasma membrane from the ORNs. The IP3-activated channels have kinetic properties of odor-activated channels in the ORNs and pharmacological properties of intracellular IP3-activated channels in other systems. An antibody directed against an intracellular, cerebellar IP3, receptor recognizes a protein with a molecular weight similar to the mammalian receptor in the ORNs. The antibody selectively increases odor-evoked inward currents and IP3-activated unitary currents in the ORNs. The data provide further evidence for IP3 as an olfactory second messenger and implicate at least one and possibly two novel plasma membrane IP3 receptors in olfactory transduction.
We developed a mathematical model of a hypothetical neuronal signal transduction pathway to better understand olfactory perception in Caenorhabditis elegans. This worm has only three pairs of olfactory receptor neurons. Intracellular Ca2+ decreases in one pair of olfactory neurons in C. elegans, the AWC neurons, following application of an attractive odor and there is a transient increase in intracellular Ca2+ following removal of odor. The magnitude of this increase is positively correlated with the duration of odor stimulation. Additionally, this Ca2+ transient is induced by a cGMP second messenger system. We identified likely candidates for the signal transduction molecules functioning in this system based on available gene expression and physiological data from AWCs. Our model incorporated a G-protein-coupled odor receptor, a G-protein, a guanylate cyclase as the G-protein effector, and a single phosphodiesterase. Additionally, a cyclic-nucleotide-gated ion channel and a voltage-gated ion channel that mediated calcium influx were incorporated into the model. We posited that, upon odor stimulation, guanylate cyclase was suppressed by the G-protein and that, upon cessation of the stimulus, the G-protein–induced suppression ceased and cGMP synthesis was restored. A key element of our model was a Ca2+-dependent negative feedback loop that ensured that the calcium increases were transient. Two guanylate cyclase-activating proteins acted on the effector guanylate cyclase to negatively regulate cGMP signaling and the resulting calcium influx. Our model was able to closely replicate in silico three important features of the calcium dynamics of AWCs. Specifically, in our simulations, [Ca2+] increased rapidly and reached its peak within 10 s after the odor stimulus was removed, peak [Ca2+] increased with longer odor exposure, and [Ca2+] decreased during a second stimulus that closely followed an initial stimulus. However, application of random background signal (‘noise’) showed that certain components of the pathway were particularly sensitive to this noise.
In Drosophila, most individual olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) project bilaterally to both sides of the brain1,2. Having bilateral rather than unilateral projections may represent a useful redundancy. However, bilateral ORN projections to the brain should also compromise the ability to lateralize odors. Nevertheless, walking or flying Drosophila reportedly turn toward their more strongly stimulated antenna3-5. Here we show that each ORN spike releases ~40% more neurotransmitter from the axon branch ipsilateral to the soma, as compared to the contralateral branch. As a result, when an odor activates the antennae asymmetrically, ipsilateral central neurons begin to spike a few milliseconds before contralateral neurons, and ipsilateral central neurons also fire at a 30-50% higher rate. We show that a walking fly can detect a 5% asymmetry in total ORN input to its left and right antennal lobes, and can turn toward the odor in less time than it requires the fly to complete a stride. These results demonstrate that neurotransmitter release properties can be tuned independently at output synapses formed by a single axon onto two target cells with identical functions and morphologies. Our data also show that small differences in spike timing and spike rate can produce reliable differences in olfactory behavior.
In either the vertebrate nose or the insect antenna, most olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) respond to multiple odors. However, some ORNs respond to just a single odor, or at most to a few highly related odors. It has been hypothesized that narrowly-tuned ORNs project to narrowly-tuned neurons in the brain, and that these dedicated circuits mediate innate behavioral responses to a particular ligand. Here we have investigated neural activity and behavior downstream from two narrowly-tuned ORN types in Drosophila. We found that genetically ablating either of these ORN types impairs innate behavioral attraction to their cognate ligand. Neurons in the antennal lobe postsynaptic to one of these ORN types are, like their presynaptic ORNs, narrowly tuned to a pheromone. However, neurons postsynaptic to the second ORN type are broadly tuned. These results demonstrate that some narrowly-tuned ORNs project to dedicated central circuits, ensuring a tight connection between stimulus and behavior, whereas others project to central neurons which participate in the ensemble representations of many odors.
We examined the presence of maximum information preservation, which may be a fundamental principle of information transmission in all sensory modalities, in the Drosophila antennal lobe using an experimentally grounded network model and physiological data. Recent studies have shown a nonlinear firing rate transformation between olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and second-order projection neurons (PNs). As a result, PNs can use their dynamic range more uniformly than ORNs in response to a diverse set of odors. Although this firing rate transformation is thought to assist the decoder in discriminating between odors, there are no comprehensive, quantitatively supported studies examining this notion. Therefore, we quantitatively investigated the efficiency of this firing rate transformation from the viewpoint of information preservation by computing the mutual information between odor stimuli and PN responses in our network model. In the Drosophila olfactory system, all ORNs and PNs are divided into unique functional processing units called glomeruli. The nonlinear transformation between ORNs and PNs is formed by intraglomerular transformation and interglomerular interaction through local neurons (LNs). By exploring possible nonlinear transformations produced by these two factors in our network model, we found that mutual information is maximized when a weak ORN input is preferentially amplified within a glomerulus and the net LN input to each glomerulus is inhibitory. It is noteworthy that this is the very combination observed experimentally. Furthermore, the shape of the resultant nonlinear transformation is similar to that observed experimentally. These results imply that information related to odor stimuli is almost maximally preserved in the Drosophila olfactory circuit. We also discuss how intraglomerular transformation and interglomerular inhibition combine to maximize mutual information.
Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-dependent signaling couples to receptors for many different ligands in diverse cellular systems. Recent findings suggest that PI3K-dependent signaling also mediates inhibition of odorant responses in rat olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). Here, we present evidence that murine ORNs show PI3K-dependent calcium responses to odorant stimulation, they express 2 G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-activated isoforms of PI3K, PI3Kβ and PI3Kγ, and they exhibit odorant-induced PI3K activity. These findings support our use of a transgenic mouse model to begin to investigate the mechanisms underlying PI3K-mediated inhibition of odorant responses in mammalian ORNs. Mice deficient in PI3Kγ, a class IB PI3K that is activated via GPCRs, lack detectable odorant-induced PI3K activity in their olfactory epithelium and their ORNs are less sensitive to PI3K inhibition. We conclude that odorant-dependent PI3K signaling generalizes to the murine olfactory system and that PI3Kγ plays a role in mediating inhibition of odorant responses in mammalian ORNs.
calcium imaging; complex odorants; ELISA; inhibitory input; transgenic
Olfactory systems utilize discrete neural pathways to process and integrate odorant information. In Drosophila, axons of first-order olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and dendrites of second-order projection neurons (PNs) form class-specific synaptic connections at ∼50 glomeruli. The mechanisms underlying PN dendrite targeting to distinct glomeruli in a 3-dimensional discrete neural map are unclear. Here we show that the leucine-rich repeat (LRR) transmembrane protein Capricious (Caps) is differentially expressed in different classes of PNs. Loss- and gain-of-function studies indicate that Caps instructs the segregation of Caps-positive and negative PN dendrites to discrete glomerular targets. Moreover, Caps does not mediate homophilic interactions and regulates PN dendrite targeting independent of pre-synaptic ORNs. The closely related protein Tartan plays a partially redundant function with Capricious. These LRR proteins are likely part of a combinatorial cell-surface code that instructs discrete olfactory map formation.
Each odorant receptor gene defines a unique type of olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) and a corresponding type of second-order neuron. Because each odor can activate multiple ORN types, information must ultimately be integrated across these processing channels to form a unified percept. Here we show that, in Drosophila, integration begins at the level of second-order projection neurons (PNs). We genetically silence all the ORNs that normally express a particular odorant receptor, and find that PNs postsynaptic to the silent glomerulus receive substantial lateral excitatory input from other glomeruli. Genetically confining odor-evoked ORN input to just one glomerulus reveals that most PNs postsynaptic to other glomeruli receive indirect excitatory input from the single ORN type that is active. Lateral connections between identified glomeruli vary in strength, and this pattern of connections is stereotyped across flies. Thus, a dense network of lateral connections distributes odor-evoked excitation between channels in the first brain region of the olfactory processing stream.
Little is known about how individual olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) select, from among many odor receptor genes, which genes to express. Acj6 (Abnormal chemosensory jump 6) is a POU-domain transcription factor essential for the specification of ORN identity and Or (odor receptor) gene expression in the Drosophila maxillary palp, one of the two adult olfactory organs. However, the mechanism by which Acj6 functions in this process has not been investigated. Here we systematically examine the role of Acj6 in the maxillary palp and in a major subset of antennal ORNs. We define an Acj6 binding site by a reiterative in vitro selection process. The site is found upstream of Or genes regulated by Acj6, and Acj6 binds to the site in Or promoters. Mutational analysis shows that the site is essential for Or regulation in vivo. Surprisingly, a novel ORN class in acj6 adults is found to arise from ectopic expression of a larval Or gene, which is repressed in wild-type via an Acj6 binding site. Thus Acj6 acts directly in the process of receptor gene choice; it plays a dual role, positive and negative, in the logic of the process, and acts in partitioning the larval and adult receptor repertoires.
olfaction; Drosophila; Acj6; POU-domain; maxillary palp; antenna
Individual olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) selectively express one or a small number of odor receptors from among a large receptor repertoire. The expression of an odor receptor dictates the odor response spectrum of the ORN. The process of receptor gene choice relies in part on a combinatorial code of transcription factors. In Drosophila, the POU domain transcription factor Acj6 is one element of the transcription factor code. In acj6 null mutants, many ORNs do not express an appropriate odor receptor gene and thus are not correctly specified. We find that acj6 is alternatively spliced to yield many structurally distinct transcripts in the olfactory organs. We generate flies that express single splice forms of acj6 in an acj6− background. We find that different splice forms are functionally distinct; they differ in their abilities to specify ORN identities. Some individual splice forms can fully rescue the specification of some ORNs. Individual splice forms can function both positively and negatively in receptor gene regulation. ORNs differ in their requirements for splice forms; some are not fully rescued by any single splice form tested, suggesting that some ORNs may require the combinatorial action of multiple splice forms. Late expression of some acj6 splice forms is sufficient to rescue some ORN classes, consistent with a direct role for Acj6 isoforms in receptor gene expression. The results indicate that alternative splicing may add another level of richness to the regulatory code that underlies the process of odor receptor gene choice.
olfaction; Drosophila; Acj6; POU-domain; odor receptor; splicing
Here we describe several fundamental principles of olfactory processing in the Drosophila antennal lobe (the analog of the vertebrate olfactory bulb), based on a systematic analysis of input and output spike trains of seven identified glomeruli. Repeated presentations of the same odor elicit more reproducible responses in second-order projection neurons (PNs) than in their presynaptic olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). PN responses rise and accommodate rapidly, emphasizing odor onset. Furthermore, weak ORN inputs are amplified in the PN layer but strong inputs are not. This nonlinear transformation broadens PN tuning, and produces more uniform distances between odor representations in PN coding space. Additionally, a portion of a PN’s odor response profile is not systematically related to its direct ORN inputs, likely reflecting lateral connections between glomeruli. Finally, we show that a linear discriminator classifies odors more accurately using PN spike trains as compared to an equivalent number of ORN spike trains.
Vertebrate olfactory sensory neurons rapidly adapt to repetitive odorant stimuli. Previous studies have shown that the principal molecular mechanisms for odorant adaptation take place after the odorant-induced production of cAMP, and that one important mechanism is the negative feedback modulation by Ca2+-calmodulin (Ca2+-CaM) of the cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channel. However, the physiological role of the Ca2+-dependent activity of phosphodiesterase (PDE) in adaptation has not been investigated yet. We used the whole-cell voltage-clamp technique to record currents in mouse olfactory sensory neurons elicited by photorelease of 8-Br-cAMP, an analogue of cAMP commonly used as a hydrolysis-resistant compound and known to be a potent agonist of the olfactory CNG channel. We measured currents in response to repetitive photoreleases of cAMP or of 8-Br-cAMP and we observed similar adaptation in response to the second stimulus. Control experiments were conducted in the presence of the PDE inhibitor IBMX, confirming that an increase in PDE activity was not involved in the response decrease. Since the total current activated by 8-Br-cAMP, as well as that physiologically induced by odorants, is composed not only of current carried by Na+ and Ca2+ through CNG channels, but also by a Ca2+-activated Cl− current, we performed control experiments in which the reversal potential of Cl− was set, by ion substitution, at the same value of the holding potential, −50 mV. Adaptation was measured also in these conditions of diminished Ca2+-activated Cl− current. Furthermore, by producing repetitive increases of ciliary's Ca2+ with flash photolysis of caged Ca2+, we showed that Ca2+-activated Cl− channels do not adapt and that there is no Cl− depletion in the cilia. All together, these results indicate that the activity of ciliary PDE is not required for fast adaptation to repetitive stimuli in mouse olfactory sensory neurons.
Delta/Serrate/Lag2 (DSL) ligands and their Notch family receptors have profound and pervasive roles in development. They are also expressed in adult tissues, notably in mature neurons and glia in the brain, where their roles are unknown. Here, focusing on the sense of smell in adult Drosophila, we show that Notch is activated in select olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) in an odorant specific fashion. This response requires olfactory receptor activity and the Notch ligand Delta. We present evidence that Notch activation depends on synaptic transmission by the ORNs in which the receptors are active, and is modulated by the activity of local interneurons in the antennal lobe. It is also subject to regulatory inputs from olfactory receptor activity in other ORNs. These findings identify a new correlate of stimulus-dependent brain activity, and potentially new forms of neural integration and plasticity.
The Drosophila antennal lobe is subdivided into multiple glomeruli, each of which represents a unique olfactory information processing channel. In each glomerulus, feedforward input from olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) is transformed into activity of projection neurons (PNs), which represent the output. Recent investigations have indicated that lateral presynaptic inhibitory input from other glomeruli controls the gain of this transformation. Here, we address why this gain control acts “pre”-synaptically rather than “post”-synaptically. Postsynaptic inhibition could work similarly to presynaptic inhibition with regard to regulating the firing rates of PNs depending on the stimulus intensity. We investigate the differences between pre- and postsynaptic gain control in terms of odor discriminability by simulating a network model of the Drosophila antennal lobe with experimental data. We first demonstrate that only presynaptic inhibition can reproduce the type of gain control observed in experiments. We next show that presynaptic inhibition decorrelates PN responses whereas postsynaptic inhibition does not. Due to this effect, presynaptic gain control enhances the accuracy of odor discrimination by a linear decoder while its postsynaptic counterpart only diminishes it. Our results provide the reason gain control operates “pre”-synaptically but not “post”-synaptically in the Drosophila antennal lobe.
Drosophila; antennal lobe; odor discriminability; presynaptic inhibition; postsynaptic inhibition; gain control; decorrelation; concentration invariance
While most sensory neurons will adapt to prolonged stimulation by down-regulating their responsiveness to the signal, it is not clear which events initiate long-lasting sensory adaptation. Likewise, we are just beginning to understand how the physiology of the adapted cell is altered. Caenorhabditis elegans is inherently attracted to specific odors that are sensed by the paired AWC olfactory sensory neurons. The attraction diminishes if the animal experiences these odors for a prolonged period of time in the absence of food. The AWC neuron responds acutely to odor-exposure by closing calcium channels. While odortaxis requires a Gα subunit protein, cGMP-gated channels, and guanylyl cyclases, adaptation to prolonged odor exposure requires nuclear entry of the cGMP-dependent protein kinase, EGL-4. We asked which candidate members of the olfactory signal transduction pathway promote nuclear entry of EGL-4 and which molecules might induce long-term adaptation downstream of EGL-4 nuclear entry. We found that initiation of long-term adaptation, as assessed by nuclear entry of EGL-4, is dependent on G-protein mediated signaling but is independent of fluxes in calcium levels. We show that long-term adaptation requires polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that may act on the transient receptor potential (TRP) channel type V OSM-9 downstream of EGL-4 nuclear entry. We also present evidence that high diacylglycerol (DAG) levels block long-term adaptation without affecting EGL-4 nuclear entry. Our analysis provides a model for the process of long-term adaptation that occurs within the AWC neuron of C. elegans: G-protein signaling initiates long-lasting olfactory adaptation by promoting the nuclear entry of EGL-4, and once EGL-4 has entered the nucleus, processes such as PUFA activation of the TRP channel OSM-9 may dampen the output of the AWC neuron.
Caenorhabditis elegans is capable of sensing a variety of attractive volatile compounds. These odors are the worm's “best guesses” as to how to track down food. Employing calculated approximations underlies a foraging strategy that is open to failure. When C. elegans track an odor which proves unrewarding, they must modify their behavior based on this experience. They also need to prevent over-stimulating their neurons. To accomplish this, C. elegans olfactory sensory neurons adapt to odors after a sustained exposure to odor in the absence of food. Within the pair of primary odor-sensory neurons, termed the AWCs, adaptation requires the cGMP-dependent protein kinase G (PKG), EGL-4. Exposing animals to AWC–sensed odors for approximately 60 minutes results in a long-lasting (∼3 hour) adaptation that requires the nuclear translocation of EGL-4. To understand how sensory transduction and desensitization machinery converge to achieve olfactory adaptation, we asked whether odor-induced EGL-4 nuclear accumulation was affected by gene mutations that abrogate either odor sensation of or adaptation to AWC–sensed odors. We find that G-protein signaling represents the integration point where primary odor sensation and odor adaptation pathways diverge. PUFA signaling, calcium, and decreased diacylglycerol all dampen the response of the AWC neuron to odor downstream of this divergence.
The first reorganization of odor representations in the nervous system occurs at the synapse between olfactory receptor neurons and second-order neurons in olfactory bulb glomeruli. Signal transmission at this synapse is modulated presynaptically by several mechanisms, a major one being mediated by GABAB receptors, which suppress presynaptic calcium influx and subsequent transmitter release from the receptor neuron terminal. Here, we imaged stimulus-evoked calcium influx into the receptor neuron terminal in anesthetized mice, and used odorant and electrical stimulation combined with in vivo pharmacology to characterize the functional determinants of GABAB-mediated presynaptic inhibition and to test hypotheses on the role of this inhibition in olfactory processing. As expected from earlier studies, blocking presynaptic GABAB receptors in vivo increased odorant-evoked presynaptic calcium signals, confirming that GABAB-mediated inhibition modulates the strength of receptor inputs. Surprisingly, we found that the strength of this inhibition was affected little by the nature of the input, being independent of the spatial distribution of activated glomeruli, independent of the sniff frequency used to sample the odorant, and similar for weak and strong odorant-evoked inputs. Instead, we found that tonic inhibition was a major determinant of receptor input strength; this tonic inhibition in turn was dependent on glutamatergic transmission from second-order neurons in the glomerular layer. Thus, rather than adaptively shaping odor representations in an activity-dependent manner, a primary role of presynaptic inhibition in vivo may be to modulate the magnitude of sensory input to the brain as a function of behavioral state.
calcium; GABA-ergic modulation; olfactory bulb; optical imaging; presynaptic regulation; sensory neurons
In Drosophila, ∼50 classes of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) send axons to 50 corresponding glomeruli in the antennal lobe. Uniglomerular projection neurons (PNs) relay olfactory information to the mushroom body (MB) and lateral horn (LH). Here, we combine single-cell labeling and image registration to create high-resolution, quantitative maps of the MB and LH for 35 input PN channels and several groups of LH neurons. We find (1) PN inputs to the MB are stereotyped as previously shown for the LH; (2) PN partners of ORNs from different sensillar groups are clustered in the LH; (3) fruit odors are represented mostly in the posterior-dorsal LH, whereas candidate pheromone-responsive PNs project to the anterior-ventral LH; (4) dendrites of single LH neurons each overlap with specific subsets of PN axons. Our results suggest that the LH is organized according to biological values of olfactory input.
A remarkable problem in neurobiology is how olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) select, from among a large odor receptor repertoire, which receptors to express. We use computational algorithms and mutational analysis to define positive and negative regulatory elements that are required for selection of odor receptor (Or) genes in the proper olfactory organ of Drosophila, and we identify an element that is essential for selection in one ORN class. Two odor receptors are coexpressed by virtue of the alternative splicing of a single gene, and we identify dicistronic mRNAs that each encode two receptors. Systematic analysis reveals no evidence for negative feedback regulation, but provides evidence that the choices made by neighboring ORNs of a sensillum are coordinated via the asymmetric segregation of regulatory factors from a common progenitor. We show that receptor gene choice in Drosophila also depends on a combinatorial code of transcription factors to generate the receptor-to-neuron map.
Olfaction; Drosophila; odor receptor gene; antenna