Insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene families: from genetic model organism to vector, pest and beneficial species.
ABSTRACT Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) mediate fast synaptic transmission in the insect nervous system and are targets of a major group of insecticides, the neonicotinoids. Analyses of genome sequences have shown that nAChR gene families remain compact in diverse insect species, when compared to their mammalian counterparts. Thus, Drosophila melanogaster and Anopheles gambiae each possess 10 nAChR genes while Apis mellifera has 11. Although these are among the smallest nAChR gene families known, receptor diversity can be considerably increased by alternative splicing and mRNA A-to-I editing, thereby generating species-specific subunit isoforms. In addition, each insect possesses at least one highly divergent nAChR subunit. Species-specific subunit diversification may offer promising targets for future rational design of insecticides that act on particular pests while sparing beneficial insects. Electrophysiological studies on cultured Drosophila cholinergic neurons show partial agonist actions of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid and super-agonist actions of another neonicotinoid, clothianidin, on native nAChRs. Recombinant hybrid heteromeric nAChRs comprising Drosophila Dalpha2 and a vertebrate beta2 subunit have been instructive in mimicking such actions of imidacloprid and clothianidin. Unitary conductance measurements on native nAChRs indicate that more frequent openings of the largest conductance state may offer an explanation for the superagonist actions of clothianidin.
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ABSTRACT: Many mosquito species serve as vectors of diseases such as malaria and yellow fever, wherein pathogen transmission is tightly associated with the reproductive requirement of taking vertebrate blood meals. Toxorhynchites is one of only three known mosquito genera that does not host-seek and initiates egg development in the absence of a blood derived protein bolus. These remarkable differences make Toxorhynchites an attractive comparative reference for understanding mosquito chemosensation as it pertains to host-seeking. We performed deep transcriptome profiling of adult female Toxorhynchites amboinensis bodies, antennae and maxillary palps, and identified 25,084 protein-coding "genes" in the de novo assembly. Phylogenomic analysis of 4,266 single-copy "genes" from T.amboinensis, Aedes aegypti, Anopheles gambiae and Culex quinquefasciatus robustly supported Ae. aegypti as the closest relative of T.amboinensis, with the two species diverged approximately 40 million years ago. We identified a large number of T.amboinensis chemosensory "genes", the majority of which have orthologs in other mosquitoes. Finally, cross-species expression analyses indicated that patterns of chemoreceptor transcript abundance were very similar for chemoreceptors that are conserved between T.amboinensis and Ae. aegypti, while T. amboinensis appeared deficient in the variety of expressed, lineage-specific chemoreceptors. Our transcriptome assembly of T. amboinensis represents the first comprehensive genomic resource for a non-blood feeding mosquito and establishes a foundation for future comparative studies of blood-feeding and non-blood feeding mosquitoes. We hypothesize that chemosensory genes that display discrete patterns of evolution and abundance between T. amboinensis and blood-feeding mosquitoes are likely to play critical roles in host-seeking and hence the vectorial capacity.Genome Biology and Evolution 10/2014; DOI:10.1093/gbe/evu231 · 4.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Sensory stimuli fluctuate on many timescales. However, short-term plasticity causes synapses to act as temporal filters, limiting the range of frequencies that they can transmit. How synapses in vivo might transmit a range of frequencies in spite of short-term plasticity is poorly understood. The first synapse in the Drosophila olfactory system exhibits short-term depression, but can transmit broadband signals. Here we describe two mechanisms that broaden the frequency characteristics of this synapse. First, two distinct excitatory postsynaptic currents transmit signals on different timescales. Second, presynaptic inhibition dynamically updates synaptic properties to promote accurate transmission of signals across a wide range of frequencies. Inhibition is transient, but grows slowly, and simulations reveal that these two features of inhibition promote broadband synaptic transmission. Dynamic inhibition is often thought to restrict the temporal patterns that a neuron responds to, but our results illustrate a different idea: inhibition can expand the bandwidth of neural coding.Nature Neuroscience 12/2014; DOI:10.1038/nn.3895 · 14.98 Impact Factor