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Title: Functional characterization of the octenol receptor neuron on the maxillary palps of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti

item Grant, Alan
item Dickens, Joseph

Submitted to: PLOS ONE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/8/2011
Publication Date: 6/30/2011
Citation: Grant, A.J., Dickens, J.C. 2011. Functional characterization of the octenol receptor neuron on the maxillary palps of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. PLoS One. 6(6):e21785.

Interpretive Summary: Mosquitoes are attracted to specfic chemicals released by humans and other animals. One of these chemicals named octenol exists in two mirror image forms and is detected by specific odor sensing cells on the mosquito. We recently showed at the molecular level how mirror image forms of octenol and related compounds are detected by a specific protein. Now we have recorded responses from odor sensing cells in intact mosquitoes and show that responses of these cells can be attributed to one specific odor sensing protein. This discovery represents an important step toward understanding how chemical signals are detected by mosquitoes and other insects, and supports the use of specific odor sensing proteins for developing rational drug design strategies. This information will be used by chemists and pharmacologists to develop biorational chemical strategies for insect survey and control.

Technical Abstract: 1-Octen-3-ol (octenol) is a common attractant released by vertebrates which in combination with carbon dioxide attracts haematophagous arthropods including mosquitoes. A receptor neuron contained within basiconic sensilla on the maxillary palps of adult mosquitoes responds selectively to 1-octen-3-ol. Recently, an odorant receptor (AaOR8) known to occur on the maxillary palps was expressed in a heterologous system and demonstrated to be selectively sensitive to (R)-(-)- 1-octen-3-ol, one of two enantiomeric forms. Lesser responses were elicited by stimulation with the (S)-enantiomer and various analogs. Here we characterize the specificity of the octenol receptor neuron in the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti (L.), in vivo using single cell recordings. The octenol neuron is exquisitely sensitive to (R)-(-)-1-octen-3-ol; comparable responses to (S)-(+)-1-octen-3-ol were elicited only at stimulus doses over 100x that required for the (R)-enantiomer. Small structural changes in (R)-(-)-1- octen-3-ol resulted in large decreases in responses. Increases in spike activity were also elicited in the octenol neuron by 2-undecanone, a known repellent; other repellents (DEET, IR3535 and picaridin) were inactive. The results of our electrophysiological studies of the octenol receptor neuron in vivo approximates results of a previous study of the octenol receptor (AaOR8 with its obligate partner AaOR7) expressed heterologously in Xenopus oocytes. By comparison of our current results with those of the heterologous expression study, we conclude that specificity of the octenol receptor neuron can be explained largely by characteristics of the OR alone without other associated proteins present in vivo. Our findings show that repellents may have specific stimulatory effects on receptor neurons and support the notion of repellents as modulators of mosquito odorant receptor activity.