Nociceptor-Enriched Genes Required for Normal Thermal Nociception

Cell Rep. 2016 Jul 12;16(2):295-303. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.06.003. Epub 2016 Jun 23.


Here, we describe a targeted reverse genetic screen for thermal nociception genes in Drosophila larvae. Using laser capture microdissection and microarray analyses of nociceptive and non-nociceptive neurons, we identified 275 nociceptor-enriched genes. We then tested the function of the enriched genes with nociceptor-specific RNAi and thermal nociception assays. Tissue-specific RNAi targeted against 14 genes caused insensitive thermal nociception while targeting of 22 genes caused hypersensitive thermal nociception. Previously uncategorized genes were named for heat resistance (i.e., boilerman, fire dancer, oven mitt, trivet, thawb, and bunker gear) or heat sensitivity (firelighter, black match, eucalyptus, primacord, jet fuel, detonator, gasoline, smoke alarm, and jetboil). Insensitive nociception phenotypes were often associated with severely reduced branching of nociceptor neurites and hyperbranched dendrites were seen in two of the hypersensitive cases. Many genes that we identified are conserved in mammals.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Larva / cytology
  • Larva / genetics
  • Male
  • Morphogenesis
  • Nociception*
  • Nociceptors / physiology*
  • RNA Interference
  • Taxis Response


  • Drosophila Proteins