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Steroid hormone signaling activates thermal nociception during Drosophila peripheral nervous system development

  • Author(s): Jaszczak, Jacob S;
  • DeVault, Laura;
  • Jan, Lily Yeh;
  • Jan, Yuh Nung
  • et al.

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AbstractSensory neurons enable animals to detect environmental changes and avoid harm. An intriguing open question concerns how the various attributes of sensory neurons arise in development. Drosophila melanogaster larvae undergo a behavioral transition by robustly activating a thermal nociceptive escape behavior during the second half of larval development (3rd instar). The Class 4 dendritic arborization (C4da) neurons are multimodal sensors which tile the body wall of Drosophila larvae and detect nociceptive temperature, light, and mechanical force. In contrast to the increase in nociceptive behavior in the 3rd instar, we find that ultraviolet light-induced Ca2+ activity in C4da neurons decreases during same period of larval development. Loss of ecdysone receptor has previously been shown to reduce nociception in 3rd instar larvae. We find that ligand dependent activation of ecdysone signaling is sufficient to promote nociceptive responses in 2nd instar larvae and suppress expression of subdued (encoding a TMEM16 channel). Reduction of subdued expression in 2nd instar C4da neurons not only increases thermal nociception but also decreases the response to ultraviolet light. Thus, steroid hormone signaling suppresses subdued expression to facilitate the sensory switch of C4da neurons. This regulation of a developmental sensory switch through steroid hormone regulation of channel expression raises the possibility that ion channel homeostasis is a key target for tuning the development of sensory modalities.

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