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Identification of an aggression-promoting pheromone and its receptor neurons in Drosophila

Wang, Liming and Anderson, David J. (2010) Identification of an aggression-promoting pheromone and its receptor neurons in Drosophila. Nature, 463 (7278). pp. 227-231. ISSN 0028-0836. PMCID PMC2999963. doi:10.1038/nature08678.

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Aggression is regulated by pheromones in many animal species1, 2, 3. However, in no system have aggression pheromones, their cognate receptors and corresponding sensory neurons been identified. Here we show that 11-cis-vaccenyl acetate (cVA), a male-specific volatile pheromone, robustly promotes male–male aggression in the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster. The aggression-promoting effect of synthetic cVA requires olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) expressing the receptor Or67d4, 5, 6, as well as the receptor itself. Activation of Or67d-expressing OSNs, either by genetic manipulation of their excitability or by exposure to male pheromones in the absence of other classes of OSNs, is sufficient to promote aggression. High densities of male flies can promote aggression by the release of volatile cVA. In turn, cVA-promoted aggression can promote male fly dispersal from a food resource, in a manner dependent on Or67d-expressing OSNs. These data indicate that cVA may mediate negative-feedback control of male population density, through its effect on aggression. Identification of a pheromone–OSN pair controlling aggression in a genetic organism opens the way to unravelling the neurobiology of this evolutionarily conserved behaviour.

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Anderson, David J.0000-0001-6175-3872
Additional Information:© 2010 Nature Publishing Group. Received 31 August 2009; accepted 18 November 2009; published online 6 December 2009; corrected 14 January 2010. We thank B. Dickson, M. Heisenberg and L. Vosshall for providing fly stocks, R. Axel, C. Bargmann, J. Levine and L. Vosshall for comments on the manuscript and L. Zipursky for discussions. This work was supported in part by NSF grants EF-0623527 and MCB-0418479. D.J.A. is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Author Contributions: L.W. carried out all the experiments and performed the data analysis. L.W. and D.J.A. together conceived the research and wrote the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:7278
PubMed Central ID:PMC2999963
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20100128-135258031
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Official Citation:Wang, L., Anderson, D. Identification of an aggression-promoting pheromone and its receptor neurons in Drosophila. Nature 463, 227–231 (2010).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:17342
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:29 Jan 2010 18:21
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 23:34

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