The ingestion of dietary protein is of vital importance for the maintenance of fundamental physiological processes. The taste modality umami, with its prototype stimulus, glutamate, is considered to signal the protein content of food. Umami was thought to be mediated by the heterodimeric amino acid receptor, T1R1+T1R3. Based on knockout studies, additional umami receptors are likely to exist. In addition to amino acids, certain peptides can also elicit and enhance umami taste suggesting that protein breakdown products may contribute to umami taste. The recently deorphanized peptone receptor, GPR92 (also named GPR93; LPAR5), is expressed in gastric enteroendocrine cells where it responds to protein hydrolysates. Therefore, it was of immediate interest to investigate if the receptor GPR92 is expressed in gustatory sensory cells. Using immunohistochemical approaches we found that a large population of cells in murine taste buds was labeled with a GPR92-antibody. A molecular phenotyping of GPR92-cells revealed that the vast majority of GPR92-immunoreactive cells express PLCβ2 and can therefore be classified as type II cells. More detailed analyses have shown that GPR92 is expressed in the majority of T1R1-positive taste cells. These results indicate that umami cells may respond not only to amino acids but also to peptides in protein hydrolysates.
GPR92; GPR93; LPAR5; gustatory sensory cells; protein breakdown products; receptors; T1R1; taste
In the stomach of rodents clusters of brush cells are arranged at the “gastric groove,” immediately at the transition zone from the non-glandular reservoir compartment to the glandular digestive compartment. Based on their taste cell-like molecular phenotype it has been speculated that the cells may be capable to sense constituents of the ingested food, however, searches for nutrient receptors have not been successful. In this study, it was hypothesized that the cells may express receptors for short-chain fatty acids, metabolites generated by microorganisms during the storage of ingested food in the murine forestomach, which lacks the acidic milieu of more posterior regions of the stomach and is colonized with numerous microbiota. Experimental approaches, including RT-PCR analysis and immunohistochemical studies, revealed that the majority of these brush cells express the G-protein coupled receptor types GPR41 (FFAR3) and GPR43 (FFAR2), which are activated by short-chain fatty acids. Both, the GPR41 receptor proteins as well as an appropriate G-protein, α-gustducin, were found to be segregated at the apical brush border of the cells, indicating a direct contact with the luminal content of this gastric region. The exposure of microvillar processes with appropriate receptors and signaling elements to the gastric lumen suggests that the brush cells may in fact be capable to sense the short-chain fatty acids which originate from fermentation processes during the retention of ingested food in the anterior part of the stomach.
short-chain fatty acid receptors; GPR41; GPR43; brush cells; “limiting ridge”; forestomach
The behaviour of the desert locust, Schistocera gregaria, is largely directed by volatile olfactory cues. The relevant odorants are detected by specialized antennal sensory neurons which project their sensory dendrites into hair-like structures, the sensilla. Generally, the responsiveness of the antennal chemosensory cells is determined by specific receptors which may be either odorant receptors (ORs) or variant ionotropic receptors (IRs). Previously, we demonstrated that in locust the co-receptor for ORs (ORco) is only expressed in cells of sensilla basiconica and sensilla trichodea, suggesting that cells in sensilla coeloconica may express different types of chemosensory receptors. In this study, we have identified the genes of S. gregaria which encode homologues of co-receptors for the variant ionotropic receptors, the subtypes IR8a and IR25a. It was found that both subtypes, SgreIR8a and SgreIR25a, are expressed in the antennae of all five nymphal stages and in adults. Attempts to assign the relevant cell types by means of in situ hybridization revealed that SgreIR8a and SgreIR25a are expressed in cells of sensilla coeloconica. Double fluorescence in situ hybridization experiments disclosed that the two IR-subtypes are co-expressed in some cells of this sensillum type. Expression of SgreIR25a was also found in some of the sensilla chaetica, however, neither SgreIR25a nor SgreIR8a was found to be expressed in sensilla basiconica and sensilla trichodea. This observation was substantiated by the results of double FISH experiments demonstrating that cells expressing SgreIR8a or SgreIR25a do not express ORco. These results support the notion that the antenna of the desert locust employs two different populations of OSNs to sense odors; cells which express IRs in sensilla coeloconica and cells which express ORs in sensilla basiconica and sensilla trichodea.
locust; olfaction; ionotropic receptors; in situ hybridization
In order to find a blood host and to select appropriate oviposition sites female Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes rely on olfactory cues which are sensed by olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) located within morphologically different sensilla hairs. While the sharp type trichoid sensilla are most abundant and intensely studied, the striking blunt type trichoid sensilla exist only in small numbers and their specific function is unknown. It has been suggested that they may play a role in the detection of chemical cues indicating oviposition sites. With the aim of identifying molecular elements in blunt type trichoid sensilla, which may be relevant for chemosensory function of this sensillum type, experiments were performed which include whole mount fluorescence in situ hybridization (WM-FISH) and fluorescence immunohistochemistry (WM-FIHC). The studies were concentrated on odorant binding proteins (AgOBPs) and odorant receptors (AgORs). WM-FISH approaches using a probe for the plus-C class AgOBP47 led to the labeling of cells, which resembled in number and antennal distribution pattern the blunt type trichoid sensilla. Moreover, WM-FIHC with an antiserum for AgOBP47 allowed to assign the AgOBP47-expressing cells to blunt type trichoid sensilla and to allocate the protein within the sensillum hair shafts. The result of double WM-FISH-experiments and combined WM-FIHC/FISH approaches indicated that the AgOBP47-expressing cells are co-localized with cells, which express AgOR11, AgOR13 and AgOR55. In addition, it turned out that the two receptor types AgOR13 and AgOR55 are co-expressed in the same cells. Together, the results indicate that the blunt type trichoid sensilla contain a characteristic binding protein, plus-C AgOBP47, in the sensillum lymph and two sensory neurons, one cell which express the odorant receptor AgOR11 and a second cell which express the receptor types AgOR13 and AgOR55. The expression of characteristic chemosensory elements in blunt type trichoid sensilla supports the notion that this sensillum type is involved in sensing distinct odorous compounds.
olfaction; odorant receptor proteins; odorant binding proteins; mRNA expression.
The peptide hormone adiponectin is secreted by adipose tissue and the circulating concentration is reversely correlated with body fat mass; it is considered as starvation signal. The observation that mature sensory neurons of the main olfactory epithelium express the adiponectin receptor 1 has led to the concept that adiponectin may affect the responsiveness of the olfactory system. In fact, electroolfactogram recordings from olfactory epithelium incubated with exogenous adiponectin resulted in large amplitudes upon odor stimulation. To determine whether the responsiveness of the olfactory sensory neurons was enhanced, we have monitored the odorant-induced expression of the immediate early gene Egr1. It was found that in an olfactory epithelium incubated with nasally applied adiponectin the number of Egr1 positive cells was significantly higher compared to controls, suggesting that adiponectin rendered the olfactory neurons more responsive to an odorant stimulus. To analyze whether the augmented responsiveness of sensory neurons was strong enough to elicit a higher neuronal activity in the olfactory bulb, the number of activated periglomerular cells of a distinct glomerulus was determined by monitoring the stimulus-induced expression of c-fos. The studies were performed using the transgenic mOR256-17-IRES-tauGFP mice which allowed to visualize the corresponding glomerulus and to stimulate with a known ligand. The data indicate that upon exposure to 2,3-hexanedione in adiponectin-treated mice the number of activated periglomerular neurons was significantly increased compared to controls. The results of this study indicate that adiponectin increases the responsiveness of the olfactory system, probably due to a higher responsiveness of olfactory sensory neurons.
The gastric epithelium is protected from the highly acidic luminal content by alkaline mucus which is secreted from specialized epithelial cells. In the stomach of mice strong secretion of alkaline fluid was observed at the “gastric groove,” the border between corpus and fundus mucosa. Since this region is characterized by numerous brush cells it was proposed that these cells might secrete alkaline solution as suggested for brush cells in the bile duct. In fact, it was found that in this region multiple cells express elements which are relevant for the secretion of bicarbonate, including carbonic anhydrase (CAII), the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and the Na+/H+ exchanger (NHE1). However, this cell population was distinct from brush cells which express the TRP-channel TRPM5 and are considered as putative sensory cells. The location of both cell populations in close proximity implies the possibility for a paracrine interaction. This view was substantiated by the finding that brush cells express prostaglandin synthase-1 (COX-1) and the neighboring cells a specific receptor type for prostaglandins. The notion that brush cells may be able to sense a local acidification was supported by the observation that they express the channel PKD1L3 which contributes to the acid responsiveness of gustatory sensory cells. The results support the concept that brush cells may sense the luminal content and influence via prostaglandins the secretion of alkaline solution.
bicarbonate secretion; limiting ridge; brush cells; prostaglandins; PKD1L3
The initial steps of odorant recognition in the insect olfactory system involve odorant binding proteins (OBPs) and odorant receptors (ORs). While large families of OBPs have been identified in the malaria vector A. gambiae, little is known about their expression pattern in the numerous sensory hairs of the female antenna. We applied whole mount fluorescence in Situ hybridization (WM-FISH) and fluorescence immunohistochemistry (WM-FIHC) to investigate the sensilla co-expression of eight A. gambiae OBPs (AgOBPs), most notably AgOBP1 and AgOBP4, which all have abundant transcripts in female antenna. WM-FISH analysis of female antennae using AgOBP-specific probes revealed marked differences in the number of cells expressing each various AgOBPs. Testing combinations of AgOBP probes in two-color WM-FISH resulted in distinct cellular labeling patterns, indicating a combinatorial expression of AgOBPs and revealing distinct AgOBP requirements for various functional sensilla types. WM-FIHC with antisera to AgOBP1 and AgOBP4 confirmed expression of the respective proteins by support cells and demonstrated a location of OBPs within sensilla trichodea. Based on the finding that AgOBP1 and AgOBP4 as well as the receptor type AgOR2 are involved in the recognition of indole, experiments were performed to explore if the AgOBP-types and AgOR2 are co-expressed in distinct olfactory sensilla. Applying two-color WM-FISH with AgOBP-specific probes and probes specific for AgOR2 revealed a close association of support cells bearing transcripts for AgOBP1 and AgOBP4 and neurons with a transcript for the receptor AgOR2. Moreover, combined WM-FISH/-FIHC approaches using an AgOR2-specific riboprobe and AgOBP-specific antisera revealed the expression of the “ligand-matched” AgOBP1, AgOBP4 and AgOR2 to single trichoid hairs. This result substantiates the notion that a specific response to indole is mediated by an interplay of the proteins.
The discovery of taste-related elements within the gastrointestinal tract has led to a growing interest in the mechanisms and physiological significance of chemosensory monitoring of chymus composition. Previous work suggests that brush cells located in the “gastric groove,” which parallels the “limiting ridge,” a structure in rodents that divides the fundus from the corpus, are candidate sensory cells. A novel sectioning technique revealed that these cells are arranged in a palisade-like manner forming a band which borders the whole length of the corpus epithelium. Using transgenic PLCβ2 promoter-GFP mice and specific antibodies, we have demonstrated that most of these cells express gustducin, PLCβ2, and TRPM5; typical signaling proteins of gustatory sensory “type II” cells. These molecular features strongly suggest that the cells may be capable of sensing nutrient or non-nutrient constituents of the ingested food. Since there is no evidence that brush cells are endocrine cells, attempts were made to explore how such putative chemosensory cells might transmit the information to “effector” cells. It was found that most of the cells express the neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS) suggesting some paracrine interaction with adjacent cells. Moreover, they also express choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) as well as the vesicular protein SNAP25, indicating the potential for cholinergic transmission, possibly with subjacent enteric nerve fibers.
gastric groove; brush cells; chemosensory cells; NOS; ChAT
In the olfactory pathway of Drosophila, a GABAB receptor mediated presynaptic gain control mechanism at the first synapse between olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) and projection neurons has been suggested to play a critical role in setting the sensitivity and detection range of the sensory system. To approach the question if such a mechanism may be realized in the pheromone recognition system of male moths in this study attempts were made to explore if moth's pheromone-responsive cells express a GABAB- receptor. Employing a combination of genome analysis, RT-PCR experiments and screening of an antennal cDNA library we have identified a cDNA which encodes the GABAB-R1 receptor of Heliothis virescens. Moreover, based on the HvirGABAB-R1 sequence we could predict a GABAB-R1 protein from genome sequences of the silkmoth Bombyx mori. To assess whether HvirGABAB-R1 is expressed in OSNs of male antenna we performed whole-mount in situ hybridization (WM-ISH) experiments. Several HvirGABAB-R1 positive cells were visualized under long sensilla trichodea, known to contain pheromone-responsive OSNs. In parallel it was shown that cells under long trichoid hairs were labelled with pheromone receptor specific probes. In addition, the HvirGABAB-R1 specific probe also labelled several cells under shorter olfactory sensilla, but never stained cells under mechanosensory/gustatory sensilla chaetica. Together, the results indicate that a GABAB receptor is expressed in pheromone-responsive OSNs of H. virescens and suggest a presynaptic gain control mechanism in the axon terminals of these cells.
moth; olfaction; GABA; pheromone; in situ hybridization.
Monitoring the luminal content in the stomach is of vital importance for adjusting the gastric activities, including the release of gastric hormones such as gastrin. Our previous studies have shown that in mice the gastrin-secreting G-cells express receptor types which are responsive to amino acids. Since the pig is considered as more suitable model for studying gastro-physiological aspects relevant for men, in this study we have analyzed the distribution of G-cells and D-cells in the gastric antrum of men, swine, and mouse and the expression of receptor types which may render these cells responsiveness to protein breakdown products. The results indicate that the number of G-cells per antral invagination was significantly higher in swine and human compared to mice and also the distribution pattern of G-cells differed between the species. The molecular phenotyping revealed that the receptors GPRC6A and CaSR were also expressed in G-cells and in a subpopulation of D-cells from swine and men. As an additional receptor type, the peptone-receptor GPR92, was found to be expressed in G-cells and a subpopulation of D-cells; this receptor type may be particular suitable for sensing protein breakdown products and thus be a key element to adjust the activity of G-cells and D-cells according to the progress of the digestive processes in the stomach. In search for elements of an intracellular signaling cascade it was found that G-cells express the G-protein subunit Gαq as well as the phospholipase C subtype PLCβ3; in contrast, D-cells expressed the subtype PLCβ2 and neither Gαq. These results indicate that there are significant species differences concerning the number and distribution pattern, but not concerning the molecular phenotype of the gastric endocrine cells. However, G-cells and D-cells significantly differ from each other regarding the repertoire of receptors and signaling elements.
receptors; GPR92; GPRC6A; CaSR; G- and D-cells; mouse; swine; human
In locusts, olfaction plays a crucial role for initiating and controlling behaviours, including food seeking and aggregation with conspecifics, which underlie the agricultural pest capacity of the animals. In this context, the molecular basis of olfaction in these insects is of particular interest. Here, we have identified genes of two orthopteran species, Locusta migratoria and Schistocera gregaria, which encode the olfactory receptor co-receptor (Orco). It was found that the sequences of LmigOrco and SgreOrco share a high degree of identity to each other and also to Orco proteins from different insect orders. The Orco-expressing cells in the antenna of S. gregaria and L. migratoria were visualized by in situ hybridization. Orco expression could be assigned to clusters of cells in sensilla basiconica and few cells in sensilla trichodea, most likely representing olfactory sensory neurons. No Orco-positive cells were detected in sensilla coeloconica and sensilla chaetica. Orco expression was found already in all nymphal stages and was verified in some other tissues which are equipped with chemosensory hairs (mouthparts, tarsi, wings). Together, the results support the notion for a decisive role of Orco in locust olfaction.
locust; olfaction; Orco; gene expression; in situ hybridization.
In many insects, mate finding relies on female-released sex pheromones, which have to be deciphered by the male olfactory system within an odorous background of plant volatiles present in the environment of a calling female. With respect to pheromone-mediated mate localization, plant odorants may be neutral, favorable, or disturbing. Here we examined the impact of plant odorants on detection and coding of the major sex pheromone component, (Z)-11-hexadecenal (Z11-16:Ald) in the noctuid moth Heliothis virescens. By in vivo imaging the activity in the male antennal lobe (AL), we monitored the interference at the level of olfactory sensory neurons (OSN) to illuminate mixture interactions. The results show that stimulating the male antenna with Z11-16:Ald and distinct plant-related odorants simultaneously suppressed pheromone-evoked activity in the region of the macroglomerular complex (MGC), where Z11-16:Ald-specific OSNs terminate. Based on our previous findings that antennal detection of Z11-16:Ald involves an interplay of the pheromone binding protein (PBP) HvirPBP2 and the pheromone receptor (PR) HR13, we asked if the plant odorants may interfere with any of the elements involved in pheromone detection. Using a competitive fluorescence binding assay, we found that the plant odorants neither bind to HvirPBP2 nor affect the binding of Z11-16:Ald to the protein. However, imaging experiments analyzing a cell line that expressed the receptor HR13 revealed that plant odorants significantly inhibited the Z11-16:Ald-evoked calcium responses. Together the results indicate that plant odorants can interfere with the signaling process of the major sex pheromone component at the receptor level. Consequently, it can be assumed that plant odorants in the environment may reduce the firing activity of pheromone-specific OSNs in H. virescens and thus affect mate localization.
pheromone detection; antennal lobe; pheromone receptor; pheromone binding protein; olfaction
Olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) which express a member from the OR37 subfamily of odorant receptor (OR) genes are wired to the main olfactory bulb (MOB) in a unique monoglomerular fashion; from these glomeruli an untypical connectivity into higher brain centers exists. In the present study we have investigated by DiI and transsynaptic tracing approaches how the connection pattern from these glomeruli into distinct hypothalamic nuclei is organized. The application of DiI onto the ventral domain of the bulb which harbors the OR37 glomeruli resulted in the labeling of fibers within the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and supraoptic nucleus (SO) of the hypothalamus; some of these fibers were covered with varicose-like structures. No DiI-labeled cell somata were detectable in these nuclei. The data indicate that projection neurons which originate in the OR37 region of the MOB form direct connections into these nuclei. The cells that were labeled by the transsynaptic tracer WGA in these nuclei were further characterized. Their distribution pattern in the paraventricular nucleus was reminiscent of cells which produce distinct neuropeptides. Double labeling experiments confirmed that they contained vasopressin, but not the related neuropeptide oxytocin. Morphological analysis revealed that they comprise of magno- and parvocellular cells. A comparative investigation of the WGA-positive cells in the SO demonstrated that these were vasopressin-positive, as well, whereas oxytocin-producing cells of this nucleus also contained no transsynaptic tracer. Together, the data demonstrates a connectivity from OR37 expressing sensory neurons to distinct hypothalamic neurons with the same neuropeptide content.
olfaction; OR37; paraventricular nucleus; supraoptic nucleus; vasopressin; wiring
Perception of chemical stimuli from the environment is essential to most animals; accordingly, they are equipped with a complex olfactory system capable of receiving a nearly unlimited number of odorous substances and pheromones. This enormous task is accomplished by olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) arranged in several chemosensory compartments in the nose. The sensitive and selective responsiveness of OSNs to odorous molecules and pheromones is based on distinct receptors in their chemosensory membrane; consequently, olfactory receptors play a key role for a reliable recognition and an accurate processing of chemosensory information. They are therefore considered as key elements for an understanding of the principles and mechanisms underlying the sense of smell. The repertoire of olfactory receptors in mammals encompasses hundreds of different receptor types which are highly diverse and expressed in distinct subcompartments of the nose. Accordingly, they are categorized into several receptor families, including odorant receptors (ORs), vomeronasal receptors (V1Rs and V2Rs), trace amine-associated receptors (TAARs), formyl peptide receptors (FPRs), and the membrane guanylyl cyclase GC-D. This large and complex receptor repertoire is the basis for the enormous chemosensory capacity of the olfactory system.
olfaction; G protein-coupled receptor; odorant; pheromone; vomeronasal; trace amine-associated receptor; formyl peptide receptor; guanylyl cyclase
Male moths respond to conspecific female-released pheromones with remarkable sensitivity and specificity, due to highly specialized chemosensory neurons in their antennae. In Antheraea silkmoths, three types of sensory neurons have been described, each responsive to one of three pheromone components. Since also three different pheromone binding proteins (PBPs) have been identified, the antenna of Antheraea seems to provide a unique model system for detailed analyzes of the interplay between the various elements underlying pheromone reception. Efforts to identify pheromone receptors of Antheraea polyphemus have led to the identification of a candidate pheromone receptor (ApolOR1). This receptor was found predominantly expressed in male antennae, specifically in neurons located beneath pheromone-sensitive sensilla trichodea. The ApolOR1-expressing cells were found to be surrounded by supporting cells co-expressing all three ApolPBPs. The response spectrum of ApolOR1 was assessed by means of calcium imaging using HEK293-cells stably expressing the receptor. It was found that at nanomolar concentrations ApolOR1-cells responded to all three pheromones when the compounds were solubilized by DMSO and also when DMSO was substituted by one of the three PBPs. However, at picomolar concentrations, cells responded only in the presence of the subtype ApolPBP2 and the pheromone (E,Z)-6,11-hexadecadienal. These results are indicative of a specific interplay of a distinct pheromone component with an appropriate binding protein and its related receptor subtype, which may be considered as basis for the remarkable sensitivity and specificity of the pheromone detection system.
Insect; olfaction; pheromone detection; receptor; pheromone binding protein