Sexual dimorphism in Drosophila courtship circuits requires the male-specific transcription factor fruM, which is alternatively spliced to encode the FruMA, FruMB, and FruMC isoforms. Most fruM-positive neurons express multiple variants; however, the functional significance of their co-expression remains undetermined. Do co-expressed isoforms each play unique roles to jointly regulate dimorphism? By focusing on fruM-positive olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs), here, we show that FruMB and FruMC are both required for males' age-dependent sensitization to aphrodisiac olfactory cues in a cell-autonomous manner. Interestingly, FruMB expression is upregulated with age in Or47b and Ir84a ORNs, and its overexpression mimics the effect of age in elevating olfactory responses. Mechanistically, FruMB and FruMC synergistically mediate response sensitization through cooperation of their respective downstream effectors, namely, PPK25 and PPK23, which are both required for forming a functional amplification channel in ORNs. Together, these results provide critical mechanistic insight into how co-expressed FruM isoforms jointly coordinate dimorphic neurophysiology.
Fru(M) isoforms, Ir84a, Or47b, Or67d, PPK23, PPK25, juvenile hormone, methoprene tolerant, olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs), sexual dimorphism