Drosophila TRPA1 and the ancient origin of chemical nociception

Story today on Brandeis NOW about research from the Garrity lab:

Whenever you choke on acrid cigarette smoke, feel like you’re burning up from a mouthful of wasabi-laced sushi, or cry while cutting raw onions and garlic, your response is being triggered by a primordial chemical sensor conserved across some 500 million years of animal evolution, report Brandeis scientists in a study in Nature this week.

Kang et al., “Analysis of Drosophila TRPA1 reveals an ancient origin for human chemical nociception”

Rise and shine, little fly

Most animals sleep, but why they sleep and how the brain generates sleep is mysterious. In a recent study published in Neuron, postdoc Katherine Parisky and colleagues use genetic tools to manipulate the activity of neurons that control sleep in flies. Their results demonstrate that in the fly sleep is generated by GABAergic inhibition of a small cluster of peptidergic neurons within the circadian clock. Flies carrying mutations in this peptide, PDF, or its receptor, are hypersomnolent, similar to human narcoleptics who have defective signaling by the peptide hypocretin/orexin. These results suggest that the circuit architecture used to control arousal is ancient.

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