Neuropeptide-gated perception of appetitive olfactory inputs in Drosophila larvae

Cell Rep. 2013 Mar 28;3(3):820-30. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.02.003. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


Understanding how smell or taste translates into behavior remains challenging. We have developed a behavioral paradigm in Drosophila larvae to investigate reception and processing of appetitive olfactory inputs in higher-order olfactory centers. We found that the brief presentation of appetitive odors caused fed larvae to display impulsive feeding of sugar-rich food. Deficiencies in the signaling of neuropeptide F (NPF), the fly counterpart of neuropeptide Y (NPY), blocked appetitive odor-induced feeding by disrupting dopamine (DA)-mediated higher-order olfactory processing. We have identified a small number of appetitive odor-responsive dopaminergic neurons (DL2) whose activation mimics the behavioral effect of appetitive odor stimulation. Both NPF and DL2 neurons project to the secondary olfactory processing center; NPF and its receptor NPFR1 mediate a gating mechanism for reception of olfactory inputs in DL2 neurons. Our findings suggest that eating for reward value is an ancient behavior and that fly larvae are useful for studying neurobiology and the evolution of olfactory reward-driven behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Drosophila / growth & development
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Larva / physiology
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Odorants
  • Olfactory Pathways / metabolism
  • Olfactory Perception*
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / metabolism
  • Reward
  • Sensory Gating*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • NPFR protein, Drosophila
  • Neuropeptides
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide
  • neuropeptide F, Drosophila
  • Dopamine