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Function of Rhodopsin in Temperature Discrimination in Drosophila

Science  11 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6022, pp. 1333-1336
DOI: 10.1126/science.1198904

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Abstract

Many animals, including the fruit fly, are sensitive to small differences in ambient temperature. The ability of Drosophila larvae to choose their ideal temperature (18°C) over other comfortable temperatures (19° to 24°C) depends on a thermosensory signaling pathway that includes a heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide–binding protein (G protein), a phospholipase C, and the transient receptor potential TRPA1 channel. We report that mutation of the gene (ninaE) encoding a classical G protein–coupled receptor (GPCR), Drosophila rhodopsin, eliminates thermotactic discrimination in the comfortable temperature range. This role for rhodopsin in thermotaxis toward 18°C was light-independent. Introduction of mouse melanopsin restored normal thermotactic behavior in ninaE mutant larvae. We propose that rhodopsins represent a class of evolutionarily conserved GPCRs that are required for initiating thermosensory signaling cascades.

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