Nociception is an evolutionary conserved mechanism to encode and process harmful environmental stimuli. Most animals respond to a variety of nociceptive stimuli, including noxious touch and temperature, with a stereotyped escape response through activation of multimodal nociceptors, which are part of the somatosensory system. How the underlying network encodes specific behavioral responses to distinct stimuli remains remains poorly understood. We are interested in developmental signals which allow establishing such a functional circuit and investigate how the somatosensory network encodes modality specific behavior. To this end, we utilize Drosophila as a model organism, where we combine powerful molecular genetics with morphological, functional and behavioral analyses. Our studies point to a surprising wealth of conserved molecular mechanisms governing circuit development and function.