Genes Dev 2005 Feb 28;19(4):419-24. Epub 2005 Jan 28.
Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
Thermotaxis is important for animal survival, but the molecular identities of temperature sensors controlling this behavior have not been determined. We demonstrate dTRPA1, a heat-activated Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) family ion channel, is essential for thermotaxis in Drosophila. dTrpA1 knockdown eliminates avoidance of elevated temperatures along a thermal gradient. We observe dTRPA1 expression in cells without previously ascribed roles in thermosensation and implicate dTRPA1-expressing neurons in mediating thermotaxis. Our data suggest that thermotaxis relies upon neurons and molecules distinct from those required for high-temperature nociception. We propose dTRPA1 may control thermotaxis by sensing environmental temperature.