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A TRPV family ion channel required for hearing in Drosophila


The many types of insect ear share a common sensory element, the chordotonal organ, in which sound-induced antennal or tympanal vibrations are transmitted to ciliated sensory neurons and transduced to receptor potentials1,2. However, the molecular identity of the transducing ion channels in chordotonal neurons, or in any auditory system, is still unknown3,4. Drosophila that are mutant for NOMPC, a transient receptor potential (TRP) superfamily ion channel, lack receptor potentials and currents in tactile bristles5,6 but retain most of the antennal sound-evoked response7, suggesting that a different channel is the primary transducer in chordotonal organs. Here we describe the Drosophila Nanchung (Nan) protein, an ion channel subunit similar to vanilloid-receptor-related (TRPV) channels of the TRP superfamily. Nan mediates hypo-osmotically activated calcium influx and cation currents in cultured cells. It is expressed in vivo exclusively in chordotonal neurons and is localized to their sensory cilia. Antennal sound-evoked potentials are completely absent in mutants lacking Nan, showing that it is an essential component of the chordotonal mechanotransducer.

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Figure 1: Molecular analysis of nan.
Figure 2: Nan mediates cation influx in response to hypo-osmotic stress.
Figure 3: Expression of Nan in chordotonal organs.
Figure 4: Behavioural and electrophysiological defects in nan mutants.

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We thank K.-W. Choi and S. Lee for comments on a preliminary version of this manuscript; W. Sullivan for nuf1; and the Korea Basic Science Institute for use of equipment for Ca2+ measurement and electron microscope. This work was supported in part by a National Institute of Deafness and Communicative Disorders grant to M.K., by a Korea Research Foundation Grant to C.S.P. and by a Creative Research Initiatives of the Korean Ministry of Science and Technology grant to J.Y.

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Correspondence to Changsoo Kim.

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Kim, J., Chung, Y., Park, Dy. et al. A TRPV family ion channel required for hearing in Drosophila. Nature 424, 81–84 (2003).

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