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Short-term memory trace mediated by termination kinetics of olfactory receptor.

  • Author(s): Boyle, Sean Michael;
  • McInally, Shane;
  • Tharadra, Sana;
  • Ray, Anandasankar
  • et al.

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Odorants activate receptors in the peripheral olfactory neurons, which sends information to higher brain centers where behavioral valence is determined. Movement and airflow continuously change what odor plumes an animal encounters and little is known about the effect one plume has on the detection of another. Using the simple Drosophila melanogaster larval model to study this relationship we identify an unexpected phenomenon: response to an attractant can be selectively blocked by previous exposure to some odorants that activates the same receptor. At a mechanistic level, we find that exposure to this type of odorant causes prolonged tonic responses from a receptor (Or42b), which can block subsequent detection of a strong activator of that same receptor. We identify naturally occurring odorants with prolonged tonic responses for other odorant receptors (Ors) as well, suggesting that termination-kinetics is a factor for olfactory coding mechanisms. This mechanism has implications for odor-coding in any system and for designing applications to modify odor-driven behaviors.

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