Pheromonal communication in amphibians.
ABSTRACT Pheromonal communication is widespread in salamanders and newts and may also be important in some frogs and toads. Several amphibian pheromones have been behaviorally, biochemically and molecularly identified. These pheromones are typically peptides or proteins. Study of pheromone evolution in plethodontid salamanders has revealed that courtship pheromones have been subject to continual evolutionary change, perhaps as a result of co-evolution between the pheromonal ligand and its receptor. Pheromones are detected by the vomeronasal organ and main olfactory epithelium. Chemosensory neurons express vomeronasal receptors or olfactory receptors. Frogs have relatively large numbers of vomeronasal receptors that are transcribed in both the vomeronasal organ and the main olfactory epithelium. Salamander vomeronasal receptors apparently are restricted to the vomeronasal organ. To date, no chemosensory ligands have been matched to vomeronasal receptors or olfactory receptors so it is unknown whether particular receptor types are (1) specialized for detection of pheromones versus other chemosignals, or (2) specialized for detection of volatile, nonvolatile, or water-borne chemosignals. Despite progress in understanding amphibian pheromonal communication, only a small fraction of amphibian species have been examined. Study of additional species of amphibians will indicate which traits related to pheromonal communication are evolutionarily conserved and which traits have diverged over time.
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ABSTRACT: Using the whole-cell mode of the patch-clamp technique, we recorded action potentials, voltage-activated cationic currents, and inward currents in response to water-soluble and volatile odorants from receptor neurons in the lateral diverticulum (water nose) of the olfactory sensory epithelium of Xenopus laevis. The resting membrane potential was -46.5 +/- 1.2 mV (mean +/- SEM, n = 68), and a current injection of 1-3 pA induced overshooting action potentials. Under voltage-clamp conditions, a voltage-dependent Na+ inward current, a sustained outward K+ current, and a Ca2+-activated K+ current were identified. Application of an amino acid cocktail induced inward currents in 32 of 238 olfactory neurons in the lateral diverticulum under voltage-clamp conditions. Application of volatile odorant cocktails also induced current responses in 23 of 238 olfactory neurons. These results suggest that the olfactory neurons respond to both water-soluble and volatile odorants. The application of alanine or arginine induced inward currents in a dose-dependent manner. More than 50% of the single olfactory neurons responded to multiple types of amino acids, including acidic, neutral, and basic amino acids applied at 100 microM or 1 mM. These results suggest that olfactory neurons in the lateral diverticulum have receptors for amino acids and volatile odorants.The Journal of General Physiology 08/1999; 114(1):85-92. · 4.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Two evolutionarily unrelated superfamilies of G-protein coupled receptors, V1Rs and V2Rs, bind pheromones and "ordinary" odorants to initiate vomeronasal chemical senses in vertebrates, which play important roles in many aspects of an organism's daily life such as mating, territoriality, and foraging. To study the macroevolution of vomeronasal sensitivity, we identified all V1R and V2R genes from the genome sequences of 11 vertebrates. Our analysis suggests the presence of multiple V1R and V2R genes in the common ancestor of teleost fish and tetrapods and reveals an exceptionally large among-species variation in the sizes of these gene repertoires. Interestingly, the ratio of the number of intact V1R genes to that of V2R genes increased by approximately 50-fold as land vertebrates evolved from aquatic vertebrates. A similar increase was found for the ratio of the number of class II odorant receptor (OR) genes to that of class I genes, but not in other vertebrate gene families. Because V1Rs and class II ORs have been suggested to bind to small airborne chemicals, whereas V2Rs and class I ORs recognize water-soluble molecules, these increases reflect a rare case of adaptation to terrestrial life at the gene family level. Several gene families known to function in concert with V2Rs in the mouse are absent outside rodents, indicating rapid changes of interactions between vomeronasal receptors and their molecular partners. Taken together, our results demonstrate the exceptional evolutionary fluidity of vomeronasal receptors, making them excellent targets for studying the molecular basis of physiological and behavioral diversity and adaptation.Genome Research 03/2007; 17(2):166-74. · 14.40 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Xenopus laevis possess a gene repertoire encoding two distinct classes of olfactory receptors: one class related to receptors of fish and one class similar to receptors of mammals. Sequence comparison indicates that the fish-like receptors represent closely related members of only two subfamilies, whereas mammalian-like receptors are more distantly related, most of them representing a different subfamily. The fish-like receptor genes are exclusively expressed in the lateral diverticulum of the frog's nose, specialized for detecting water-soluble odorants, whereas mammalian-like receptors are expressed in sensory neurons of the main diverticulum, responsible for the reception of volatile odors.Neuron 01/1996; 15(6):1383-92. · 15.77 Impact Factor