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Papers of the Week

Papers: 4 Mar 2023 - 10 Mar 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

2023 Feb 28

Curr Biol


Cross-modal modulation gates nociceptive inputs in Drosophila.


Pan G, Li R, Xu G, Weng S, Yang XL, Yang L, Ye B


Animals’ response to a stimulus in one sensory modality is usually influenced by other modalities. One important type of multisensory integration is the cross-modal modulation, in which one sensory modality modulates (typically inhibits) another. Identification of the mechanisms underlying cross-modal modulations is crucial for understanding how sensory inputs shape animals’ perception and for understanding sensory processing disorders. However, the synaptic and circuit mechanisms that underlie cross-modal modulation are poorly understood. This is due to the difficulty of separating cross-modal modulation from multisensory integrations in neurons that receive excitatory inputs from two or more sensory modalities-in which case it is unclear what the modulating or modulated modality is. In this study, we report a unique system for studying cross-modal modulation by taking advantage of the genetic resources in Drosophila. We show that gentle mechanical stimuli inhibit nociceptive responses in Drosophila larvae. Low-threshold mechanosensory neurons inhibit a key second-order neuron in the nociceptive pathway through metabotropic GABA receptors on nociceptor synaptic terminals. Strikingly, this cross-modal inhibition is only effective when nociceptor inputs are weak, thus serving as a gating mechanism for filtering out weak nociceptive inputs. Our findings unveil a novel cross-modal gating mechanism for sensory pathways.