Submitted to: Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/26/2012
Publication Date: 6/26/2012
Citation: Bohbot, J.D., Dickens, J.C. 2012. Selectivity of odorant receptors in insects. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. 6:29. Interpretive Summary: Odors emitted by insects and their plant or animal hosts serve as chemical signals which guide the behavior of the insect. It is not clear to researchers how these odors are detected and received by the insect. Some researchers propose very specialized receptors receive the odors; other research points to generalized receptors being responsible for detection of the odors. From this research, we propose that specialized receptors are the ones that detect odor signals. Previous models have been constrained by incomplete knowledge of the chemical ecology of the insect. This information will be used by chemists and pharmacologists to direct development of novel chemicals for modulating responses of odor receptor cells for protection of plants and animals.
Technical Abstract: Insect olfactory receptors (ORs) detect chemical signals, shape neuronal physiology and regulate behavior. Although ORs have been categorized as generalists and specialists based on their ligand spectrum, both electrophysiological studies and recent pharmacological investigations show that ORs specifically recognize non-pheromonal compounds, and that our understanding of odorant-selectivity mirrors our knowledge of insect chemical ecology. As we are progressively becoming aware that ORs are activated through a variety of mechanisms, the molecular basis of odorant-selectivity and the corollary notion of broad-tuning need to be reexamined from a pharmacological and evolutionary perspective.