The navel orangeworm, Amyelois transitella is a major agricultural pest causing large losses in a variety of tree crops. Control of this insect pest may be achieved by interfering with olfactory pathways to block detection of female-produced sex pheromones and consequently, disrupt mating. The first component of this pathway is the pheromone-binding protein AtraPBP1, which recognizes the pheromone and presents it to the odorant receptor housed in a sensory neuron of the male antennae. Release of the ligand depends on a pH-induced conformational change associated with the acidity of the membrane surface. To characterize this conformational change and to understand how pheromones bind, we have determined the high resolution crystal structures of AtraPBP1 in complex with two main constituents of the sex pheromone, i.e., (11Z,13Z)-hexadecadienal and (11Z,13Z)-hexadecadienol. Comparison with the structure of the unliganded form demonstrates a large ∼90° movement of the C-terminal helix which is observed in other pheromone- or odorant-binding proteins accompanied by an unpredicted 37° displacement of the N-terminal helix. Molecular dynamic trajectories suggest that the conformational change of the α1 helix facilitates the movement of the C-terminal helix.
Blowflies are economic pests of the wool industry and potential vectors for epidemics. The establishment of a pesticide-free, environmentally friendly blowfly control strategy is necessary. Blowflies must feed on meat in order to initiate the cascade of events that are involved in reproduction including juvenile hormone synthesis, vitellogenesis, and mating. During feeding blowflies regurgitate salivary lipase, which may play a role in releasing fatty acids from triglycerides that are found in food. However, long-chain fatty acids show low solubility in aqueous solutions. In order to solubilize and ingest the released hydrophobic fatty acids, the blowflies must use a solubilizer.
We applied native PAGE, Edman degradation, cDNA cloning, and RT-PCR to characterize a protein that accumulated in the oral disk of the black blowfly, Phormia regina. In situ hybridization was carried out to localize the expression at the cellular level. A fluorescence competitive binding assay was used to identify potential ligands of this protein.
A protein newly identified from P. regina (PregOBP56a) belonged to the classic odorant-binding protein (OBP) family. This gene was expressed in a cluster of cells that was localized between pseudotracheae on the oral disk, which are not accessory cells of the taste peg chemosensory sensilla that normally synthesize OBPs. At pH 7 and pH 6, PregOBP56a bound palmitic, stearic, oleic, and linoleic acids, that are mainly found in chicken meat. The binding affinity of PregOBP56a decreased at pH 5. We propose that PregOBP56a is a protein that solubilizes fatty acids during feeding and subsequently helps to deliver the fatty acids to the midgut where it may help in the process of reproduction. As such, PregOBP56a is a potential molecular target for controlling the blowfly.
Labial glands are present in all castes and developmental stages of all termite species. In workers, their secretion contains a food-marking pheromone and digestive enzymes, while soldier secretion plays a defensive role. However, these functions were studied only in a limited set of species, and do not allow drawing general conclusions. Hence, we have investigated the chemical composition of the labial gland extracts from soldiers and workers in 15 termite species belonging to 6 families using an integrative approach based on proteomic and small-molecule profiling. We confirmed the presence of hydroquinone and cellulase in the labial glands of workers, and we identified new toxic compounds in soldiers and workers of several species. Our results highlight the dual role of labial gland secretion, i.e. the defensive role in soldiers and workers of several termite species, and the digestive function in workers.
The insect olfactory system, particularly the peripheral sensory system for sex pheromone reception in male moths, is highly selective, but specificity determinants at the receptor level are hitherto unknown. Using the Xenopus oocyte recording system, we conducted a thorough structure-activity relationship study with the sex pheromone receptor of the silkworm moth, Bombyx mori, BmorOR1. When co-expressed with the obligatory odorant receptor co-receptor (BmorOrco), BmorOR1 responded in a dose-dependent fashion to both bombykol and its related aldehyde, bombykal, but the threshold of the latter was about one order of magnitude higher. Solubilizing these ligands with a pheromone-binding protein (BmorPBP1) did not enhance selectivity. By contrast, both ligands were trapped by BmorPBP1 leading to dramatically reduced responses. The silkworm moth pheromone receptor was highly selective towards the stereochemistry of the conjugated diene, with robust response to the natural (10E,12Z)-isomer and very little or no response to the other three isomers. Shifting the conjugated diene towards the functional group or elongating the carbon chain rendered these molecules completely inactive. In contrast, an analogue shortened by two omega carbons elicited the same or slightly higher responses than bombykol. Flexibility of the saturated C1–C9 moiety is important for function as addition of a double or triple bond in position 4 led to reduced responses. The ligand is hypothesized to be accommodated by a large hydrophobic cavity within the helical bundle of transmembrane domains.
The insect's olfactory system is so selective that male moths, for example, can discriminate female-produced sex pheromones from compounds with minimal structural modifications. Yet, there is an exception for this “lock-and-key” tight selectivity. Formate analogs can be used as replacement for less chemically stable, long-chain aldehyde pheromones, because male moths respond physiologically and behaviorally to these parapheromones. However, it remained hitherto unknown how formate analogs interact with aldehyde-sensitive odorant receptors (ORs). Neuronal responses to semiochemicals were investigated with single sensillum recordings. Odorant receptors (ORs) were cloned using degenerate primers, and tested with the Xenopus oocyte expression system. Quality, relative quantity, and purity of samples were evaluated by gas chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. We identified olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) housed in trichoid sensilla on the antennae of male navel orangeworm that responded equally to the main constituent of the sex pheromone, (11Z,13Z)-hexadecadienal (Z11Z13-16Ald), and its formate analog, (9Z,11Z)-tetradecen-1-yl formate (Z9Z11-14OFor). We cloned an odorant receptor co-receptor (Orco) and aldehyde-sensitive ORs from the navel orangeworm, one of which (AtraOR1) was expressed specifically in male antennae. AtraOR1•AtraOrco-expressing oocytes responded mainly to Z11Z13-16Ald, with moderate sensitivity to another component of the sex pheromone, (11Z,13Z)-hexadecadien-1-ol. Surprisingly, this receptor was more sensitive to the related formate than to the natural sex pheromone. A pheromone receptor from Heliothis virescens, HR13 ( = HvirOR13) showed a similar profile, with stronger responses elicited by a formate analog than to the natural sex pheromone, (11Z)-hexadecenal thus suggesting this might be a common feature of moth pheromone receptors.
The navel orangeworm, Amyelois transitella (Walker), is an agricultural insect pest that can be controlled by disrupting male-female communication with sex pheromones, a technique known as mating disruption. Insect pheromone-binding proteins (PBPs) provide fast transport of hydrophobic pheromones through aqueous sensillar lymph and promote sensitive delivery of pheromones to receptors. Here we present a mutational analysis on a PBP from Amyelois transitella (AtraPBP1) to evaluate how the C-terminal helix in this protein controls pheromone binding as a function of pH. Pheromone binds tightly to AtraPBP1 at neutral pH, but the binding is much weaker at pH below 5. Deletion of the entire C-terminal helix (residues 129–142) causes more than 100-fold increase in pheromone binding affinity at pH 5 and only a 1.5-fold increase at pH 7. A similar pH-dependent increase in pheromone binding is also seen for the H80A/H95A double mutant that promotes extrusion of the C-terminal helix by disabling salt bridges at each end of the helix. The single mutants (H80A and H95A) also exhibit pheromone binding at pH below 5, but with ~2-fold weaker affinity. NMR and circular dichroism data demonstrate a large overall structural change in each of these mutants at pH 4.5, indicating an extrusion of the C-terminal helix that profoundly affects the overall structure of the low pH form. Our results confirm that sequestration of the C-terminal helix at low pH as seen in the recent NMR structure may serve to block pheromone binding. We propose that extrusion of these C-terminal residues at neutral pH (or by the mutations in this study) exposes a hydrophobic cleft that promotes high affinity pheromone binding.
AtraPBP1; NMR; pheromone-binding protein; Amyelois transitella; pheromone; navel orangeworm moth; histidine protonation switch; disulfide bridge
Odorant-Degrading Enzymes (ODEs) are supposed to be involved in the signal inactivation step within the olfactory sensilla of insects by quickly removing odorant molecules from the vicinity of the olfactory receptors. Only three ODEs have been both identified at the molecular level and functionally characterized: two were specialized in the degradation of pheromone compounds and the last one was shown to degrade a plant odorant.
Previous work has shown that the antennae of the cotton leafworm Spodoptera littoralis, a worldwide pest of agricultural crops, express numerous candidate ODEs. We focused on an esterase overexpressed in males antennae, namely SlCXE7. We studied its expression patterns and tested its catalytic properties towards three odorants, i.e. the two female sex pheromone components and a green leaf volatile emitted by host plants.
SlCXE7 expression was concomitant during development with male responsiveness to odorants and during adult scotophase with the period of male most active sexual behaviour. Furthermore, SlCXE7 transcription could be induced by male exposure to the main pheromone component, suggesting a role of Pheromone-Degrading Enzyme. Interestingly, recombinant SlCXE7 was able to efficiently hydrolyze the pheromone compounds but also the plant volatile, with a higher affinity for the pheromone than for the plant compound. In male antennae, SlCXE7 expression was associated with both long and short sensilla, tuned to sex pheromones or plant odours, respectively. Our results thus suggested that a same ODE could have a dual function depending of it sensillar localisation. Within the pheromone-sensitive sensilla, SlCXE7 may play a role in pheromone signal termination and in reduction of odorant background noise, whereas it could be involved in plant odorant inactivation within the short sensilla.
The sesquiterpene (E)-ß-farnesene is the main component of the alarm pheromone system of various aphid species studied to date, including the English grain aphid, Sitobion avenae. Aphid natural enemies, such as the marmalade hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus and the multicolored Asian lady beetle Harmonia axyridis, eavesdrop on aphid chemical communication and utilize (E)-ß-farnesene as a kairomone to localize their immediate or offspring preys. These aphid-predator systems are important models to study how the olfactory systems of distant insect taxa process the same chemical signal. We postulated that odorant-binding proteins (OBPs), which are highly expressed in insect olfactory tissues and involved in the first step of odorant reception, have conserved regions involved in binding (E)-ß-farnesene.
We cloned OBP genes from the English grain aphid and two major predators of this aphid species. We then expressed these proteins and compare their binding affinities to the alarm pheromone/kairomone. By using a fluorescence reporter, we tested binding of (E)-ß-farnesene and other electrophysiologically and behaviorally active compounds, including a green leaf volatile attractant.
We found that OBPs from disparate taxa of aphids and their predators are highly conserved proteins, with apparently no orthologue genes in other insect species. Properly folded, recombinant proteins from the English grain aphid, SaveOBP3, and the marmalade hoverfly, EbalOBP3, specifically bind (E)-ß-farnesene with apparent high affinity. For the first time we have demonstrated that insect species belonging to distinct Orders have conserved OBPs, which specifically bind a common semiochemical and has no binding affinity for related compounds.
Leaf-cutting ants (LCAs) are polyphagous, yet highly selective herbivores. The factors that govern their selection of food plants, however, remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that the induction of anti-herbivore defences by attacked food plants, which are toxic to either ants or their mutualistic fungus, should significantly affect the ants' foraging behaviour. To test this “induced defence hypothesis,” we used lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus), a plant that emits many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) upon herbivore attack with known anti-fungal or ant-repellent effects. Our results provide three important insights into the foraging ecology of LCAs. First, leaf-cutting by Atta ants can induce plant defences: Lima bean plants that were repeatedly exposed to foraging workers of Atta colombica over a period of three days emitted significantly more VOCs than undamaged control plants. Second, the level to which a plant has induced its anti-herbivore defences can affect the LCAs' foraging behaviour: In dual choice bioassays, foragers discriminated control plants from plants that have been damaged mechanically or by LCAs 24 h ago. In contrast, strong induction levels of plants after treatment with the plant hormone jasmonic acid or three days of LCA feeding strongly repelled LCA foragers relative to undamaged control plants. Third, the LCA-specific mode of damaging leaves allows them to remove larger quantities of leaf material before being recognized by the plant: While leaf loss of approximately 15% due to a chewing herbivore (coccinelid beetle) was sufficient to significantly increase VOC emission levels after 24 h, the removal of even 20% of a plant's leaf area within 20 min by LCAs did not affect its VOC emission rate after 24 h. Taken together, our results support the “induced defence hypothesis” and provide first empirical evidence that the foraging behaviour of LCAs is affected by the induction of plant defence responses.
Semiochemicals are often produced in infinitesimally small quantities, so their isolation requires large amounts of starting material, not only requiring significant effort in sample preparation, but also resulting in a complex mixture of compounds from which the bioactive compound needs to be purified and identified. Often, compounds cannot be unambiguously identified by their mass spectra alone, and NMR analysis is required for absolute chemical identification, further exacerbating the situation because NMR is relatively insensitive and requires large amounts of pure analyte, generally more than several micrograms. We developed an integrated approach for purification and NMR analysis of <1 µg of material. Collections from high performance preparative gas-chromatography are directly eluted with minimal NMR solvent into capillary NMR tubes. With this technique, 1H-NMR spectra were obtained on 50 ng of geranyl acetate, which served as a model compound, and reasonable H-H COSY NMR spectra were obtained from 250 ng of geranyl acetate. This simple off-line integration of preparative GC and NMR will facilitate the purification and chemical identification of novel volatile compounds, such as insect pheromones and other semiochemicals, which occur in minute (sub-nanogram), and often limited, quantities.
Insect repellents are prophylactic tools against a number of vector-borne
diseases. There is growing demand for repellents outperforming DEET in cost
and safety, but with the current technologies R&D of a new product takes
almost 10 years, with a prohibitive cost of $30 million dollar in
part due to the demand for large-scale synthesis of thousands of test
compounds of which only 1 may reach the market. R&D could be expedited
and cost dramatically reduced with a molecular/physiological target to
streamline putative repellents for final efficacy and toxicological
Using olfactory-based choice assay we show here that the fruit fly is
repelled by not only DEET, but also IR3535 and picaridin thus suggesting
they might have “generic repellent detector(s),” which may be of
practical applications in new repellent screenings. We performed single unit
recordings from all olfactory sensilla in the antennae and maxillary palps.
Although the ab3A neuron in the wild type flies responded to picaridin, it
was unresponsive to DEET and IR3535. By contrast, a neuron housed in the
palp basiconic sensilla pb1 responded to DEET, IR3535, and picaridin, with
apparent sensitivity higher than that of the DEET detectors in the
mosquitoes Culex quinquefasciatus and Aedes
aegypti. DmOr42a was transplanted from pb1 to the “empty
neuron” and showed to be sensitive to the three insect repellents.
For the first time we have demonstrated that the fruit fly avoids not only
DEET but also IR3535 and picaridin, and identified an olfactory receptor
neuron (ORN), which is sensitive to these three major insect repellents. We
have also identified the insect repellent-sensitive receptor, DmOr42a. This
generic detector fulfils the requirements for a simplified bioassay for
early screening of test insect repellents.
The navel orangeworm, Amyelois transitella (Walker), is an agricultural insect pest that can be controlled by disrupting male-female communication with sex pheromones, a technique known as mating disruption. Insect pheromone-binding proteins (PBPs) provide fast transport of hydrophobic pheromones through aqueous sensillar lymph and promote sensitive delivery of pheromones to receptors. Here we present the three-dimensional structure of a PBP from Amyelois transitella (AtraPBP1) in solution at pH 4.5 determined by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Pulsed-field gradient NMR diffusion experiments, multi-angle light scattering, and 15N NMR relaxation analysis indicate that AtraPBP1 forms a stable monomer in solution at pH 4.5 in contrast to forming mostly dimers at pH 7. The NMR structure of AtraPBP1 at pH 4.5 contains seven α-helices (α1: L8-L23, α2: D27-F36, α3: R46-V62, α4: A73-M78; α5: D84-S100; α6: R107-L125; α7: M131-E141) that adopt an overall main chain fold similar to that of PBPs found in Antheraea polyphemus and Bombyx mori. The AtraPBP1 structure is stabilized by three disulfide bonds formed by C19/C54, C50/C108 and C97/C117, and salt bridges formed by H69/E60, H70/E57, H80/E132, H95/E141 and H123/D40. All five His residues are cationic at pH 4.5, whereas H80 and H95 become neutral at pH 7.0. The C-terminal helix (α7) contains hydrophobic residues (M131, V133, V134, V135, V138, L139 and A140) that contact conserved residues (W37, L59, A73, F76, A77, I94, V111, V115) suggested to interact with bound pheromone. Our NMR studies reveal that acid-induced formation of the C-terminal helix at pH 4.5 is triggered by a histidine protonation switch that promotes rapid release of bound pheromone under acidic conditions.
AtraPBP1; NMR; pheromone-binding protein; Amyelois transitella; pheromone; navel orangeworm moth; multi-angle light scattering; histidine protonation switch; disulfide bridge
Identifying new sources for small molecule discovery is necessary to help mitigate the continuous emergence of antibiotic-resistance in pathogenic microbes. Recent studies indicate that one potentially rich source of novel natural products is Actinobacterial symbionts associated with social and solitary Hymenoptera. Here we test this possibility by examining two species of solitary mud dauber wasps, Sceliphron caementarium and Chalybion californicum. We performed enrichment isolations from 33 wasps and obtained more than 200 isolates of Streptomyces Actinobacteria. Chemical analyses of 15 of these isolates identified 11 distinct and structurally diverse secondary metabolites, including a novel polyunsaturated and polyoxygenated macrocyclic lactam, which we name sceliphrolactam. By pairing the 15 Streptomyces strains against a collection of fungi and bacteria, we document their antifungal and antibacterial activity. The prevalence and anti-microbial properties of Actinobacteria associated with these two solitary wasp species suggest the potential role of these Streptomyces as antibiotic-producing symbionts, potentially helping defend their wasp hosts from pathogenic microbes. Finding phylogenetically diverse and chemically prolific Actinobacteria from solitary wasps suggests that insect-associated Actinobacteria can provide a valuable source of novel natural products of pharmaceutical interest.
In lowland Amazonian rainforests, specific ants collect seeds of several plant species and cultivate them in arboreal carton nests, forming species-specific symbioses called ant-gardens (AGs). In this obligate mutualism, ants depend on the plants for nest stability and the plants depend on ant nests for substrate and nutrients. AG ants and plants are abundant, dominant members of lowland Amazonian ecosystems, but the cues ants use to recognize the seeds are poorly understood. To address the chemical basis of the ant-seed interaction, we surveyed seed chemistry in nine AG species and eight non-AG congeners. We detected seven phenolic and terpenoid volatiles common to seeds of all or most of the AG species, but a blend of the shared compounds was not attractive to the AG ant Camponotus femoratus. We also analyzed seeds of three AG species (Anthurium gracile, Codonanthe uleana, and Peperomia macrostachya) using behavior-guided fractionation. At least one chromatographic fraction of each seed extract elicited retrieval behavior in C. femoratus, but the active fractions of the three plant species differed in polarity and chemical composition, indicating that shared compounds alone did not explain seed-carrying behavior. We suggest that the various AG seed species must elicit seed-carrying with different chemical cues.
Carboxyl/cholinesterases (CCEs) are highly diversified in insects. These enzymes have a broad range of proposed functions, in neuro/developmental processes, dietary detoxification, insecticide resistance or hormone/pheromone degradation. As few functional data are available on purified or recombinant CCEs, the physiological role of most of these enzymes is unknown. Concerning their role in olfaction, only two CCEs able to metabolize sex pheromones have been functionally characterized in insects. These enzymes are only expressed in the male antennae, and secreted into the lumen of the pheromone-sensitive sensilla. CCEs able to hydrolyze other odorants than sex pheromones, such as plant volatiles, have not been identified.
In Spodoptera littoralis, a major crop pest, a diversity of antennal CCEs has been previously identified. We have employed here a combination of molecular biology, biochemistry and electrophysiology approaches to functionally characterize an intracellular CCE, SlCXE10, whose predominant expression in the olfactory sensilla suggested a role in olfaction. A recombinant protein was produced using the baculovirus system and we tested its catabolic properties towards a plant volatile and the sex pheromone components.
We showed that SlCXE10 could efficiently hydrolyze a green leaf volatile and to a lesser extent the sex pheromone components. The transcript level in male antennae was also strongly induced by exposure to this plant odorant. In antennae, SlCXE10 expression was associated with sensilla responding to the sex pheromones and to plant odours. These results suggest that a CCE-based intracellular metabolism of odorants could occur in insect antennae, in addition to the extracellular metabolism occurring within the sensillar lumen. This is the first functional characterization of an Odorant-Degrading Enzyme active towards a host plant volatile.
A lepidopteran insect cell-based expression system has been employed to express three Anopheles gambiae odorant receptors (ORs), OR1 and OR2, which respond to components of human sweat, and OR7, the ortholog of Drosophila's OR83b, the heteromerization partner of all functional ORs in that system. With the aid of epitope tagging and specific antibodies, efficient expression of all ORs was demonstrated and intrinsic properties of the proteins were revealed. Moreover, analysis of the orientation of OR1 and OR2 on the cellular plasma membrane through the use of a novel ‘topology screen’ assay and FACS analysis demonstrates that, as was recently reported for the ORs in Drosophila melanogaster, mosquito ORs also have a topology different than their mammalian counterparts with their N-terminal ends located in the cytoplasm and their C-terminal ends facing outside the cell. These results set the stage for the production of mosquito ORs in quantities that should permit their detailed biochemical and structural characterization and the exploration of their functional properties.
The mosquito Anopheles funestus is one of the major malaria vector species in sub-Saharan Africa. Olfaction is essential in guiding mosquito behaviors. Odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) are highly expressed in insect olfactory tissues and involved in the first step of odorant reception. An improved understanding of the function of malaria mosquito OBPs may contribute to identifying new attractants/repellents and assist in the development of more efficient and environmentally friendly mosquito controlling strategies.
In this study, a large screening of over 50 ecologically significant odorant compounds led to the identification of 12 ligands that elicit significant electroantennographic (EAG) responses from An. funestus female antennae. To compare the absolute efficiency/potency of these chemicals, corrections were made for differences in volatility by determining the exact amount in a stimulus puff. Fourteen AfunOBP genes were cloned and their expression patterns were analyzed. AfunOBP1, 3, 7, 20 and 66 showed olfactory tissue specificity by reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR). Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis showed that among olfactory-specific OBPs, AfunOBP1 and 3 are the most enriched OBPs in female antennae. Binding assay experiments showed that at pH 7, AfunOBP1 significantly binds to 2-undecanone, nonyl acetate, octyl acetate and 1-octen-3-ol but AfunOBP3, which shares 68% identify with AfunOBP1 at amino acid level, showed nearly no binding activity to the selected 12 EAG-active odorant compounds.
This work presents for the first time a study on the odorants and OBPs of the malaria vector mosquito An. funestus, which may provide insight into the An. funestus olfactory research, assist in a comparative study between major malaria mosquitoes An. gambiae and An. funestus olfactory system, and help developing new mosquito control strategies to reduce malaria transmission.
Situations requiring rapid decision-making in response to dynamic environmental demands occur repeatedly in natural environments. Neuromodulation can offer important flexibility to the output of neural networks in coping with changing conditions, but the contribution of individual neuromodulatory neurons in social behavior networks remains relatively unknown. Here we manipulate the Drosophila octopaminergic system and assay changes in adult male decision-making in courtship and aggression paradigms. When the functional state of OA neural circuits is enhanced, males exhibit elevated courtship behavior towards other males in both behavioral contexts. Eliminating the expression of the male form of the neural sex determination factor, Fruitless (FruM), in three OA suboesophageal ganglia (SOG) neurons also leads to increased male-male courtship behavior in these same contexts. We analyzed the fine anatomical structure through confocal examination of labeled single neurons to determine the arborization patterns of each of the three FruM-positive OA SOG neurons. These neurons send processes that display mirror symmetric, widely distributed arbors of endings within brain regions including the ventrolateral protocerebra, the SOG and the peri-esophageal complex. The results suggest that a small subset of OA neurons have the potential to provide male selective modulation of behavior at a single neuron level.
In 2010 Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), again devastated honey bee colonies in the USA, indicating that the problem is neither diminishing nor has it been resolved. Many CCD investigations, using sensitive genome-based methods, have found small RNA bee viruses and the microsporidia, Nosema apis and N. ceranae in healthy and collapsing colonies alike with no single pathogen firmly linked to honey bee losses.
We used Mass spectrometry-based proteomics (MSP) to identify and quantify thousands of proteins from healthy and collapsing bee colonies. MSP revealed two unreported RNA viruses in North American honey bees, Varroa destructor-1 virus and Kakugo virus, and identified an invertebrate iridescent virus (IIV) (Iridoviridae) associated with CCD colonies. Prevalence of IIV significantly discriminated among strong, failing, and collapsed colonies. In addition, bees in failing colonies contained not only IIV, but also Nosema. Co-occurrence of these microbes consistently marked CCD in (1) bees from commercial apiaries sampled across the U.S. in 2006–2007, (2) bees sequentially sampled as the disorder progressed in an observation hive colony in 2008, and (3) bees from a recurrence of CCD in Florida in 2009. The pathogen pairing was not observed in samples from colonies with no history of CCD, namely bees from Australia and a large, non-migratory beekeeping business in Montana. Laboratory cage trials with a strain of IIV type 6 and Nosema ceranae confirmed that co-infection with these two pathogens was more lethal to bees than either pathogen alone.
These findings implicate co-infection by IIV and Nosema with honey bee colony decline, giving credence to older research pointing to IIV, interacting with Nosema and mites, as probable cause of bee losses in the USA, Europe, and Asia. We next need to characterize the IIV and Nosema that we detected and develop management practices to reduce honey bee losses.
Oviposition attractants are environmental cues that allow Culex gravid female mosquitoes to locate suitable sites for egg-laying and, therefore, may be exploited for environmentally friendly strategies for controlling mosquito populations. Naturally occurring skatole has been identified as an oviposition attractant for the Southern House mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus. Previously, we identified in Cx. quinquefasciatus female antennae an olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) highly sensitive to skatole and an odorant-binding protein involved in the detection of this semiochemical. Here, we describe the characterization of an odorant receptor (OR), CquiOR10, which is narrowly tuned to skatole when expressed in the Xenopus oocyte system. Odorant-induced response profiles generated by heterologously expressed CquiOR10 suggest that this OR is expressed in the mosquito ORN sensitive to skatole. However, geranylacetone, which stimulates the antennal ORN, was not detected by CquiOR10-expressing oocytes, thus raising interesting questions about reception of oviposition attractants in mosquitoes.
Odorant receptor; CquiOR10; Culex quinquefasciatus; Xenopus oocyte expression system; 3-Methylindole; 2-Methylphenol
General odorant-binding proteins (GOBPs) of moths are postulated to be involved in the reception of semiochemicals other than sex pheromones, the so-called “general odorants.” We have expressed two GOBPs, AtraGOBP1 and AtraGOBP2, which were previously isolated from the antennae of the navel orangeworm, Amyelois transitella. Surprisingly, these two proteins did not bind compounds that are known to attract adult moths, particularly females. The proper folding and functionality of the recombinant proteins was inferred from circular dichroism analysis and demonstration that both GOBPs bound nonanal in a pH-dependent manner. EAG experiments demonstrated that female attractants (1-phenylethanol, propionic acid phenyl ester, and isobutyric acid phenyl ester) are detected with high sensitivity by the antennae of day-0 to day-4 adult females, with response declining in older moths. The same age-dependence was shown for male antennae responding to constituents of the sex pheromone. Interestingly, AtraGOBP2 bound the major constituent of the sex pheromone, Z11Z13-16Ald, with affinity comparable to that shown by a pheromone-binding protein, AtraPBP1. The related alcohol bound to AtraPBP1 with higher affinity than to AtraGOBP2. AtraGOBP1 bound both ligands with low but nearly the same affinity.
Amyelois transitella; AtraGOBP1; AtraGOBP2; AtraPBP1; Circular dichroism; Electroantennogram recording; Female attractants; General odorant-binding proteins; Protein expression
The Southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, is an important human health pest as a vector of several pathogens, including agents of lymphatic filariasis and arboviruses like West Nile virus. We conducted preliminary experiments in Recife, Brazil, to explore applications of Culex oviposition attractants in combination with Bacillus thuringiensis variety israelensis (Bti) in an attract- and-kill approach. Simple, cost-effective oviposition traps, BR-OVT, loaded with Bti and baited with or without attractant, were deployed in 10 homes for 30 d in 2 consecutive yr. Significantly higher numbers of egg rafts were deposited in traps baited with skatole or infusion than the control water traps. In the first year, 2006, significantly higher numbers of eggs were deposited in infusion-baited traps, particularly in the first 15 d of the experiment, than in skatole traps, but in the following year no significant difference was observed between synthetic and natural attractants. The tests strongly demonstrate that skatole or infusion can be used to enhance the number of egg rafts deposited on Bti-treated oviposition traps.
Bacillus thuringiensis variety israelensis; skatole; grass infusion; West Nile virus; ovitrap
N-myristoylation is a crucial covalent modification of numerous eukaryotic and viral proteins that is catalyzed by N-myristoyltransferase (NMT). Prokaryotes are lacking endogeneous NMT activity. Recombinant production of N-myristoylated proteins in E. coli cells can be achieved by coexpression of heterologous NMT with the target protein. In the past, dual plasmid systems were used for this purpose.
Here we describe a single vector system for efficient coexpression of substrate and enzyme suitable for production of co- or posttranslationally modified proteins. The approach was validated using the HIV-1 Nef protein as an example. A simple and efficient protocol for production of highly pure and completely N-myristoylated Nef is presented. The yield is about 20 mg myristoylated Nef per liter growth medium.
The single vector strategy allows diverse modifications of target proteins recombinantly coexpressed in E. coli with heterologous enzymes. The method is generally applicable and provides large amounts of quantitatively processed target protein that are sufficient for comprehensive biophysical and structural studies.
Insect odorant receptors (ORs) are heteromers comprised of highly variable odorant-binding subunits associated with one conserved co-receptor. They are potential molecular targets for the development of novel mosquito attractants and repellents. ORs have been identified in the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, and in the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. However, they are still unknown in the Southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, which transmits pathogens that cause human diseases throughout the world, including West Nile Virus in the United States.
We have employed a combination of bioinformatics, molecular cloning and electrophysiology approaches to identify and characterize the response profile of an OR in Cx. quinquefasciatus. First, we have unveiled a large multigenic family of one-hundred-fifty-eight putative ORs in this species, including a subgroup of conserved ORs in three mosquito species. Using the Xenopus oocytes expression system, we have determined the response profile of CquiOR2, an antennae-specific OR, which shares high identity with putative orthologs in Anopheles gambiae (AgamOR2) and Aedes aegypti (AaegOR2).
We show that CquiOR2 is highly sensitive to indole, an oviposition attractant for Cx. quinquefasciatus. The response profile of CquiOR2 expressed in Xenopus oocytes resembles that of an olfactory receptor neuron housed in the antennal short blunt-tipped sensilla (A2) of Cx. quinquefasciatus, which are natural detectors for oviposition attractants. This first Culex OR de-orphanized is, therefore, a potential molecular target for screening oviposition attractants.