The full repertoire of Drosophila gustatory receptors for detecting an aversive compound

Jaewon Shim, Youngseok Lee, Yong Taek Jeong, Yonjung Kim, Min Goo Lee, Craig Montell, Seok Jun Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


The ability to detect toxic compounds in foods is essential for animal survival. However, the minimal subunit composition of gustatory receptors required for sensing aversive chemicals in Drosophila is unknown. Here we report that three gustatory receptors, GR8a, GR66a and GR98b function together in the detection of L-canavanine, a plant-derived insecticide. Ectopic co-expression of Gr8a and Gr98b in Gr66a-expressing, bitter-sensing gustatory receptor neurons (GRNs) confers responsiveness to L-canavanine. Furthermore, misexpression of all three Grs enables salt- or sweet-sensing GRNs to respond to L-canavanine. Introduction of these Grs in sweet-sensing GRNs switches L-canavanine from an aversive to an attractive compound. Co-expression of GR8a, GR66a and GR98b in Drosophila S2 cells induces an L-canavanine-activated nonselective cation conductance. We conclude that three GRs collaborate to produce a functional L-canavanine receptor. Thus, our results clarify the full set of GRs underlying the detection of a toxic tastant that drives avoidance behaviour in an insect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8867
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Nov 16

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank H. Amrein and J. Carlson for providing reagents, and the Bloomington Stock Center and the Vienna Drosophila RNAi Center for providing fly stocks. We thank Takaaki Sokabe for performing some of the initial patch clamp experiments. J.S. was supported by the Korea Food Research Institute, Republic of Korea. This study was supported by a grant to S.J.M. from the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (NRF-2012R1A1A1012081 and NRF-2014R1A2A1A11050045), a grant to M.G.L. from the National Research Foundation, the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning, Republic of Korea (2013R1A3A2042197), a grant to Y.L. from a new faculty research program (J2013-0027) of Kookmin University in Korea and a grant to C.M. from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (DC007864).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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