Atypical expression of Drosophila gustatory receptor genes in sensory and central neurons

J Comp Neurol. 2008 Feb 1;506(4):548-68. doi: 10.1002/cne.21547.


Members of the Drosophila gustatory receptor (Gr) gene family are generally expressed in chemosensory neurons and are known to mediate the perception of sugars, bitter substrates, CO(2), and pheromones. The Gr gene family consists of 68 members, many of which are organized in gene clusters of up to six genes, yet only expression of about 15 Gr genes has been characterized in detail prior to this study. Here we describe the first comprehensive expression analysis of six highly conserved Gr genes, Gr28a and Gr28b.a to Gr28b.e. Four of these Gr genes are not only expressed in the characteristic pattern associated with previously analyzed Gr genes-chemosensory neurons of the gustatory and olfactory system-but several other types of sensory neurons and neurons in the brain. Specifically, we show that several of the Gr28 genes are expressed in abdominal multidendritic neurons, putative hygroreceptive neurons of the arista, neurons associated with the Johnston's organ, peripheral proprioceptive neurons in the legs, neurons in the larval and adult brain, and oenocytes. Thus, our findings suggest that some Gr genes are utilized in nongustatory roles in the nervous system and tissues involved in proprioception, hygroreception, and other sensory modalities. It is also possible that the Gr28 genes have chemosensory roles in the detection of internal ligands.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / genetics
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / cytology
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / embryology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / cytology
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / embryology
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Genes, Insect / genetics
  • Nervous System / cytology
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology
  • Neurons, Afferent / metabolism*
  • Olfactory Pathways / cytology
  • Olfactory Pathways / embryology
  • Olfactory Pathways / metabolism
  • Peripheral Nervous System / cytology
  • Peripheral Nervous System / embryology
  • Peripheral Nervous System / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics*
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics
  • Taste / genetics


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Gr28b protein, Drosophila
  • Protein Isoforms
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Odorant
  • gustatory receptor, Drosophila