Systematic morphological and morphometric analysis of identified olfactory receptor neurons in Drosophila melanogaster.

ELife
C. Nava GonzalesChih-Ying Su

Abstract

The biophysical properties of sensory neurons are influenced by their morphometric and morphological features, whose precise measurements require high-quality volume electron microscopy (EM). However, systematic surveys of nanoscale characteristics for identified neurons are scarce. Here, we characterize the morphology of Drosophila olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) across the majority of genetically identified sensory hairs. By analyzing serial block-face electron microscopy images of cryofixed antennal tissues, we compile an extensive morphometric data set based on 122 reconstructed 3D models for 33 of the 40 identified antennal ORN types. Additionally, we observe multiple novel features-including extracellular vacuoles within sensillum lumen, intricate dendritic branching, mitochondria enrichment in select ORNs, novel sensillum types, and empty sensilla containing no neurons-which raise new questions pertinent to cell biology and sensory neurobiology. Our systematic survey is critical for future investigations into how the size and shape of sensory neurons influence their responses, sensitivity, and circuit function.

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