The antennae of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, shown schematically in dark yellow. Dark red: odor molecules. Right: The odorant receptors studied are protein dimers consisting of the odorant receptor Or22a and the co-receptor Orco; they mediate very sensitive responses to odor molecules. Above: State of sensitization − weak ion flow caused by cAMP; below: signals are “switched through” in the receptor system resulting in opening of the ion channel and electric signal transduction. The pictures are taken from the animation.
Graphics: Dieter Wicher, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. Animation: Moves Like Nature, Kimberly Falk
Even fewer molecules below the response threshold are sufficient to amplify the sensitivity of the receptors, and binding of molecules shortly afterwards triggers the opening of an ion channel that controls the fly’s reaction and flight behavior. This means that a below threshold odor stimulation increases the sensitivity of the receptor, and if a second odor pulse arrives within a certain time span, a neural response will be elicited. (PLOS ONE, March 12, 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058889)A sensitive sense of smell is vital
Dr. Jan-Wolfhard Kellmann | Max-Planck-Institut
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