Sweet neurons inhibit texture discrimination by signaling TMC-expressing mechanosensitive neurons in Drosophila

Elife. 2019 Jun 11:8:e46165. doi: 10.7554/eLife.46165.


Integration of stimuli of different modalities is an important but incompletely understood process during decision making. Here, we show that Drosophila are capable of integrating mechanosensory and chemosensory information of choice options when deciding where to deposit their eggs. Specifically, females switch from preferring the softer option for egg-laying when both options are sugar free to being indifferent between them when both contain sucrose. Such sucrose-induced indifference between options of different hardness requires functional sweet neurons, and, curiously, the Transmembrane Channel-like (TMC)-expressing mechanosensitive neurons that have been previously shown to promote discrimination of substrate hardness during feeding. Further, axons of sweet neurons directly contact axons of TMC-expressing neurons in the brain and stimulation of sweet neurons increases Ca2+ influx into axons of TMC-expressing neurons. These results uncover one mechanism by which Drosophila integrate taste and tactile information when deciding where to deposit their eggs and reveal that TMC-expressing neurons play opposing roles in hardness discrimination in two different decisions.

Keywords: D. melanogaster; Drosophila; TMC neurons; egg-laying; hardness discrimination; neuroscience; sensory integration; sweet taste neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oviposition / physiology*
  • Sucrose / chemistry
  • Sweetening Agents / chemistry
  • Taste*
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / metabolism
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / physiology


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels
  • Sucrose