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Coordinating Receptor Expression and Wiring Specificity in Olfactory Receptor Neurons

By Hongjie Li, Tongchao Li, Felix Horns, Jiefu Li, Qijing Xie, Chuanyun Xu, Bing Wu, Justus M. Kebschull, David Vacek, Anthony Xie, David J. Luginbuhl, Stephen R. Quake, Liqun Luo

Posted 31 Mar 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/594895

The ultimate function of a neuron is determined by both its physiology and connectivity, but the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms that coordinate these two features are not well understood1-4. The Drosophila olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) provide an excellent system to investigate this question. As in mammals5, each Drosophila ORN class is defined by the expression of a single olfactory receptor or a unique combination thereof, which determines their odor responses, and by the single glomerulus to which their axons target, which determines how sensory signals are represented in the brain6-10. In mammals, the coordination of olfactory receptor expression and wiring specificity is accomplished in part by olfactory receptors themselves regulating ORN wiring specificity11-13. However, Drosophila olfactory receptors do not instruct axon targeting6, 14, raising the question as to how receptor expression and wiring specificity are coordinated. Using single-cell RNA-sequencing and genetic analysis, we identified 33 transcriptomic clusters for fly ORNs. We unambiguously mapped 17 to glomerular classes, demonstrating that transcriptomic clusters correspond well with anatomically and physiologically defined ORN classes. We found that each ORN expresses ~150 transcription factors (TFs), and identified a master TF that regulates both olfactory receptor expression and wiring specificity. A second TF plays distinct roles, regulating only receptor expression in one class and only wiring in another. Thus, fly ORNs utilize diverse transcriptional strategies to coordinate physiology and connectivity.

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