, Volume 175, Issue 3, pp 267-278

Altered mechanoreceptor response in Drosophila bang-sensitive mutants

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Abstract

Bang-sensitive mutants of Drosophila melano gaster (bas 1, bssMW1, eas2, tko25t) display seizure followed by paralysis when subjected to mechanical shock. However, no physiological or biochemical defect has been found to be common to all of these mutants. In order to observe the effects of bang-sensitive mutations upon an identified neuron, and to study the nature of mechanically induced paralysis, we examined the response of a mechanosensory neuron in these mutants. In each single mutant and the double mutant bas 1 bssMW1, the frequency of action potentials in response to a bristle displacement was reduced. This is the first demonstration of a physiological defect common to several of the bang-sensitive mutations. Adaptation of spike frequency, cumulative adaptation to repeated stimulation (fatigue) and the time course of recovery from adaptation were also examined. Recovery from adaptation to a conditioning stimulus was examined in two mutants (bas 1 and bss MW1), and initial recovery from adaptation was greater in both mutants. Quantification of receptor potentials was complicated by variability inherent in extracellular recording conditions, but examination of the waveform and range of amplitudes did not indicate clear mutant defects. Therefore the differences observed in the spike response may be due to an alteration of the transfer from receptor potentials to action potential production. DNA sequence analysis of tko and eas has indicated that they encode apparently unrelated biochemical products. Our results suggest that these biochemical lesions lead to a common physiological defect in mechanoreceptors. Although this defect does not provide a straightforward explanation for bang sensitivity, the altered cellular process may lead to bang sensitivity through its action in different parts of the nervous system.