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1.  Variant Ionotropic Receptors Are Expressed in Olfactory Sensory Neurons of Coeloconic Sensilla on the Antenna of the Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) 
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.
PMCID: PMC3879586  PMID: 24391446
locust; olfaction; ionotropic receptors; in situ hybridization
2.  The Blunt Trichoid Sensillum of Female Mosquitoes, Anopheles gambiae: Odorant Binding Protein and Receptor Types 
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.
PMCID: PMC3979995  PMID: 24719560
olfaction; odorant receptor proteins; odorant binding proteins; mRNA expression.
3.  The Co-Expression Pattern of Odorant Binding Proteins and Olfactory Receptors Identify Distinct Trichoid Sensilla on the Antenna of the Malaria Mosquito Anopheles gambiae 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69412.
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.
PMCID: PMC3702612  PMID: 23861970
4.  Expression of a GABAB - Receptor in Olfactory Sensory Neurons of Sensilla trichodea on the Male Antenna of the Moth Heliothis virescens 
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.
PMCID: PMC3729013  PMID: 23904795
moth; olfaction; GABA; pheromone; in situ hybridization.
5.  The Olfactory Co-receptor Orco from the Migratory Locust (Locusta migratoria) and the Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria): Identification and Expression pattern 
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.
PMCID: PMC3248701  PMID: 22211114
locust; olfaction; Orco; gene expression; in situ hybridization.
6.  Plant odorants interfere with detection of sex pheromone signals by male Heliothis virescens 
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.
PMCID: PMC3465774  PMID: 23060749
pheromone detection; antennal lobe; pheromone receptor; pheromone binding protein; olfaction
7.  Sex-Specific Odorant Receptors of the Tobacco Hornworm Manduca Sexta 
As odor information plays a vital role in the life of moths, their olfactory sense has evolved into a highly specific and sensitive apparatus relevant to reproduction and survival. The key players in the detection of odorants are olfactory receptor (OR) proteins. Here we identify four OR-encoding genes differentially expressed in the antennae of males and females of the sphingid moth Manduca sexta. Two male-specific receptors (the previously reported MsexOR-1 and the newly identified MsexOR-4) show great resemblance to other male moth pheromone ORs. The putative pheromone receptors are co-expressed with the co-receptor involved in general odorant signal transduction, the DmelOr83b homolog MsexOR-2. One female-specific receptor (MsexOR-5) displays similarities to BmorOR-19, a receptor in Bombyx mori tuned to the detection of the plant odor linalool.
PMCID: PMC2922936  PMID: 20725598
olfaction; Manduca sexta; Lepidoptera; odorant receptor; pheromone receptor
8.  Antennal expression pattern of two olfactory receptors and an odorant binding protein implicated in host odor detection by the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae 
Odor-detection in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae involves large families of diverse proteins, including multiple odorant binding proteins (AgOBPs) and olfactory receptors (AgORs). The receptors AgOR1 and AgOR2, as well as the binding protein AgOBP1, have been implicated in the recognition of human host odors. In this study, we have explored the expression of these olfactory proteins, as well as the ubiquitous odorant receptor heteromerization partner AgOR7, in the thirteen flagellomeres (segments) of female and male antenna. Expressing cells were visualized by adapting a whole mount fluorescence in situ hybridization method. In female mosquitoes, AgOR1-expressing olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) were almost exclusively segregated in segments 3 to 9, whereas AgOR2-expressing ORNs were distributed over flagellomeres 2 to 13. Different individuals comprised a similar number of cells expressing a distinct AgOR type, although their antennal topography and number per flagellomere varied. AgOBP1-expressing support cells were present in segments 3 to 13 of the female antenna, with increasing numbers towards the distal end. In male mosquitoes, total numbers of AgOR- and AgOBP1-expressing cells were much lower. While AgOR2-expressing cells were found on both terminal flagellomeres, AgOR1 cells were restricted to the most distal segment. High densities of AgOBP1-expressing cells were identified in segment 13, whereas segment 12 comprised very few. Altogether, the results demonstrate that both sexes express the two olfactory receptor types as well as the binding protein AgOBP1 but there is a significant sexual dimorphism concerning the number and distribution of these cells. This may suggest gender-specific differences in the ability to detect distinct odorants, specifically human host-derived volatiles.
PMCID: PMC2962264  PMID: 20975820
olfaction; odorant receptor proteins; odorant binding proteins; mRNA expression; sexual dimorphism
9.  A receptor and binding protein interplay in the detection of a distinct pheromone component in the silkmoth Antheraea polyphemus 
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.
PMCID: PMC2793307  PMID: 20011135
Insect; olfaction; pheromone detection; receptor; pheromone binding protein

Results 1-9 (9)