The olfactory systems of insects are fundamental to all aspects of their behaviour, and insect olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) exhibit exquisite specificity and sensitivity to a wide range of environmental cues. In Drosophila melanogaster, ORN responses are determined by three different receptor families, the odorant (Or), ionotropic-like (IR) and gustatory (Gr) receptors. However, the precise mechanisms of signalling by these different receptor families are not fully understood. Here we report the unexpected finding that the type 4 P-type ATPase phospholipid transporter dATP8B, the homologue of a protein associated with intrahepatic cholestasis and hearing loss in humans, is crucial for Drosophila olfactory responses. Mutations in dATP8B severely attenuate sensitivity of odorant detection specifically in Or-expressing ORNs, but do not affect responses mediated by IR or Gr receptors. Accordingly, we find dATP8B to be expressed in ORNs and localised to the dendritic membrane of the olfactory neurons where signal transduction occurs. Localisation of Or proteins to the dendrites is unaffected in dATP8B mutants, as is dendrite morphology, suggesting instead that dATP8B is critical for Or signalling. As dATP8B is a member of the phospholipid flippase family of ATPases, which function to determine asymmetry in phospholipid composition between the outer and inner leaflets of plasma membranes, our findings suggest a requirement for phospholipid asymmetry in the signalling of a specific family of chemoreceptor proteins.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research