On Feb.5, 2019, Wei Zhang's group published 'Piezo-like Gene Regulates Locomotion in Drosophila Larvae' in Cell Reports.
To maintain proper locomotive patterns, animals constantly monitor body posture with their proprioceptive receptors. In Drosophila, the chordotonal organs (Cho) are especially important in the regulation of locomotion pattern. However, how Cho neurons that are normally activated with sound (vibration) transduce static displacement caused by body position change remains unclear. Here, we report that piezo-like (pzl), a homolog for mammalian piezo1 and 2, is essential for Cho’s function in locomotion. The mutant allele of pzl showed severe defects in crawling pattern and body gesture control, which were rescued by expressing Pzl specifically in Cho neurons. The ability of Cho neurons to respond to micrometer-scale body wall displacement requires pzl. Intriguingly, human or mouse Piezo1 can rescue pzl-mutant phenotypes, suggesting a conserved role of the Piezo-family proteins in locomotion.