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The cockroach, Leucophaea maderae, can be trained in an associative olfactory memory task by either classical or operant conditioning. When trained by classical conditioning, memory formation is regulated by a circadian clock, but once the memory is formed, it can be recalled at any circadian time. In contrast, when trained via operant conditioning, animals can learn the task at any circadian phase, but the ability to recall the long-term memory is tied to the phase of training. The optic lobes of the cockroach contain a circadian clock that drives circadian rhythms of locomotor activity, mating behavior, sensitivity of the compound eye to light, and the sensitivity of olfactory receptors in the antennae. To evaluate the role of the optic lobes in regulating learning and memory processes, the authors examined the effects of surgical ablation of the optic lobes on memory formation in classical conditioning and memory recall following operant conditioning. The effect of optic lobe ablation was to "rescue" the deficit in memory acquisition at a time the animals normally cannot learn and "rescue" the animal's ability to recall a memory formed by operant conditioning at a phase where memory was not normally expressed. The results suggested that the optic lobe pacemaker regulates these processes through inhibition at "inappropriate" times of day. As a pharmacological test of this hypothesis, the authors showed that injections of fipronil, an antagonist of GABA and glutamate-activated chloride channels, had the same effects as optic lobe ablation on memory formation and recall. The data suggest that the optic lobes contain the circadian clock(s) that regulate learning and memory processes via inhibition of neural processes in the brain.
© 2015 The Author(s).
The sophisticated organization of eusocial insect societies is largely based on the regulation of complex behaviors by hydrocarbon pheromones present on the cuticle. We used electrophysiology to investigate the detection of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) by female-specific olfactory sensilla basiconica on the antenna of Camponotus floridanus ants through the utilization of one of the largest family of odorant receptors characterized so far in insects. These sensilla, each of which contains multiple olfactory receptor neurons, are differentially sensitive to CHCs and allow them to be classified into three broad groups that collectively detect every hydrocarbon tested, including queen and worker-enriched CHCs. This broad-spectrum sensitivity is conserved in a related species, Camponotus laevigatus, allowing these ants to detect CHCs from both nestmates and non-nestmates. Behavioral assays demonstrate that these ants are excellent at discriminating CHCs detected by the antenna, including enantiomers of a candidate queen pheromone that regulates the reproductive division of labor.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Olfactory sensitivity exhibits daily fluctuations. Several studies have suggested that the olfactory system in insects is modulated by both biogenic amines and neuropeptides. However, molecular and neural mechanisms underlying olfactory modulation in the periphery remain unclear since neuronal circuits regulating olfactory sensitivity have not been identified. Here, we investigated the structure and function of these signaling pathways in the peripheral olfactory system of the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, utilizing in situ hybridization, qRT-PCR, and electrophysiological approaches. We showed that tachykinin was co-localized with the octopamine receptor in antennal neurons located near the antennal nerves. In addition, the tachykinin receptor was found to be expressed in most of the olfactory receptor neurons in antennae. Functionally, the effects of direct injection of tachykinin peptides, dsRNAs of tachykinin, tachykinin receptors, and octopamine receptors provided further support for the view that both octopamine and tachykinin modulate olfactory sensitivity. Taken together, these findings demonstrated that octopamine and tachykinin in antennal neurons are olfactory regulators in the periphery. We propose here the hypothesis that octopamine released from neurons in the brain regulates the release of tachykinin from the octopamine receptor neurons in antennae, which in turn modulates the olfactory sensitivity of olfactory receptor neurons, which house tachykinin receptors.
BACKGROUND - At a molecular level, insects utilize members of several highly divergent and unrelated families of cell-surface chemosensory receptors for detection of volatile odorants. Most odors are detected via a family of odorant receptors (ORs), which form heteromeric complexes consisting of a well-conserved OR co-receptor (Orco) ion channel and a non-conserved tuning OR that provides coding specificity to each complex. Orco functions as a non-selective cation channel and is expressed in the majority of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). As the destructive behaviors of many insects are principally driven by olfaction, Orco represents a novel target for behavior-based control strategies. While many natural and synthetic odorants have been shown to agonize Orco/Or complexes, only a single direct Orco modulator, VUAA1, has been described. In an effort to identify additional Orco modulators, we have investigated the structure/activity relationships around VUAA1.
RESULTS - A search of our compound library identified several VUAA1 analogs that were selected for evaluation against HEK cells expressing Orco from the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae (AgOrco). While the majority of compounds displayed no activity, many of these analogs possess no intrinsic efficacy, but instead, act as competitive VUAA1 antagonists. Using calcium mobilization assays, patch clamp electrophysiology, and single sensillum in vivo recording, we demonstrate that one such candidate, VU0183254, is a specific allosteric modulator of OR signaling, capable of broadly inhibiting odor-mediated OR complex activation.
CONCLUSIONS - We have described and characterized the first Orco antagonist, that is capable of non-competitively inhibiting odorant-evoked activation of OR complexes, thereby providing additional insight into the structure/function of this unique family of ligand-gated ion channels. While Orco antagonists are likely to have limited utility in insect control programs, they represent important pharmacological tools that will facilitate the investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying insect olfactory signal transduction.
The mosquito Anopheles gambiae is the major vector of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. It locates its human hosts primarily through olfaction, but little is known about the molecular basis of this process. Here we functionally characterize the Anopheles gambiae odorant receptor (AgOr) repertoire. We identify receptors that respond strongly to components of human odour and that may act in the process of human recognition. Some of these receptors are narrowly tuned, and some salient odorants elicit strong responses from only one or a few receptors, suggesting a central role for specific transmission channels in human host-seeking behaviour. This analysis of the Anopheles gambiae receptors permits a comparison with the corresponding Drosophila melanogaster odorant receptor repertoire. We find that odorants are differentially encoded by the two species in ways consistent with their ecological needs. Our analysis of the Anopheles gambiae repertoire identifies receptors that may be useful targets for controlling the transmission of malaria.
In the cockroach, olfactory sensitivity as measured by the amplitude of the electroantennogram (EAG) is regulated by the circadian system. We wished to determine how this rhythm in antennal response was reflected in the activity of individual olfactory receptor neurons. The amplitude of the EAG and the activity of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) in single olfactory sensilla were recorded simultaneously for 3 to 5 days in constant darkness from an antenna of the cockroach Leucophaea maderae. Both EAG amplitude and the spike frequency of the ORNs exhibited circadian rhythms with peak amplitude/activity occurring in the subjective day. The phases of the rhythms were dependent on the phase of the prior light cycle and thus were entrainable by light. Ablation of the optic lobes abolished the rhythm in EAG amplitude as has been previously reported. In contrast, the rhythm in ORN response persisted following surgery. These results indicated that a circadian clock outside the optic lobes can regulate the responses of olfactory receptor neurons and further that this modulation of the ORN response is not dependent on the circadian rhythm in EAG amplitude.
BACKGROUND - Many species of mosquitoes, including the major malaria vector Anopheles gambiae, utilize carbon dioxide (CO(2)) and 1-octen-3-ol as olfactory cues in host-seeking behaviors that underlie their vectorial capacity. However, the molecular and cellular basis of such olfactory responses remains largely unknown.
RESULTS - Here, we use molecular and physiological approaches coupled with systematic functional analyses to define the complete olfactory sensory map of the An. gambiae maxillary palp, an olfactory appendage that mediates the detection of these compounds. In doing so, we identify three olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) that are organized in stereotyped triads within the maxillary-palp capitate-peg-sensillum population. One ORN is CO(2)-responsive and characterized by the coexpression of three receptors that confer CO(2) responses, whereas the other ORNs express characteristic odorant receptors (AgORs) that are responsible for their in vivo olfactory responses.
CONCLUSIONS - Our results describe a complete and highly concordant map of both the molecular and cellular olfactory components on the maxillary palp of the adult female An. gambiae mosquito. These results also facilitate the understanding of how An. gambiae mosquitoes sense olfactory cues that might be exploited to compromise their ability to transmit malaria.
Neuronal stem cell expansion and differentiation is a process involving stages of proliferation and maturation governed by the sequential and combinatorial exposure of cells to extrinsic factors. The olfactory epithelium is an excellent model to investigate regulation of this process, as it undergoes neuronal replacement post-natally. We have shown that the neurotrophins NGF and BDNF sequentially promote proliferation of developing olfactory sensory neuronal precursors, although their kinetics of proliferation and cell fate outcomes differ. Interestingly, CNP inhibits this neurotrophin-induced proliferation and promotes the maturation of these precursors to their next developmental stage. Here, we investigate the mechanisms behind these actions. Both NGF and BDNF increase the expression of cyclin D1 and cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (cdk4), with temporal expression patterns that parallel the proliferation kinetics of their cellular targets. The timing of cyclin D1 expression reflects differences in the need for transcription and translation in early and late stage precursors. CNP inhibits neurotrophin-induced cyclin D1 expression, and induces the expression of different profiles of inhibitory cell cycle proteins, which are neurotrophin-specific and correlate with the attainment of different maturational cell fates. Inhibition of protein degradation reverses the effects of neurotrophins and CNP on cyclin D1 and inhibitor expression levels, respectively. These results suggest a model for cell cycle regulation that involves the simultaneous expression of progressive and inhibitory cell cycle regulatory proteins in response to both proliferation and differentiation agents, followed by selective degradation of these proteins, providing a mechanism for rapid and exquisite control of the cell cycle.
The proboscis is an important head appendage in insects that has primarily been thought to process gustatory information during food intake. Indeed, in Drosophila and other insects in which they have been identified, most gustatory receptors are expressed in proboscis neurons. Our previous characterization of the expression of AgOR7, a highly conserved odorant receptor (OR) of the Afrotropical malaria vector mosquito Anopheles gambiae in the labellum at the tip of the proboscis was suggestive of a potential olfactory function in this mosquito appendage. To test this hypothesis, we used electrophysiological recording and neuronal tracing, and carried out a molecular characterization of candidate OR expression in the labellum of A. gambiae. These studies have uncovered a set of labial olfactory responses to a small spectrum of human-related odorants, such as isovaleric acid, butylamine, and several ketones and oxocarboxylic acids. Molecular analyses indicated that at least 24 conventional OR genes are expressed throughout the proboscis. Furthermore, to more fully examine AgOR expression within this tissue, we characterized the AgOR profile within a single labial olfactory sensillum. This study provides compelling data to support the hypothesis that a cryptic set of olfactory neurons that respond to a small set of odorants are present in the mouth parts of hematophagous mosquitoes. This result is consistent with an important role for the labellum in the close-range discrimination of bloodmeal hosts that directly impacts the ability of A. gambiae to transmit malaria and other diseases.
The ability to modulate olfactory sensitivity is necessary to detect chemical gradients and discriminate among a multitude of odor stimuli. Desensitization of odorant receptors has been postulated to occur when arrestins prevent the activation of downstream second messengers. A paucity of in vivo data on olfactory desensitization prompts use of Drosophila melanogaster genetics to investigate arrestins' role in regulating olfactory signaling pathways. Physiological analysis of peripheral olfactory sensitivity reveals decreased responsiveness to a host of chemically distinct odorants in flies deficient for arrestin1 (arr1), arrestin2 (arr2), or both. These phenotypes are manifest in odorant- and dose- dependent fashions. Additionally, mutants display altered adaptive properties under a prolonged exposure paradigm. Behaviorally, arr1 mutants are impaired in olfactory-based orientation towards attractive odor sources. As the olfactory deficits vary according to chemical identity and concentration, they indicate that a spectrum of arrestin activity is essential for odor processing depending upon the particular olfactory pathway involved. Arrestin mutant phenotypes are hypothesized to be a consequence of down-regulation of olfactory signaling to avoid cellular excitotoxicity. Importantly, phenotypic rescue of olfactory defects in arr1(1) mutants is achieved through transgenic expression of wild-type arr1. Taken together, these data clearly indicate that arrestins are required in a stimulus-specific manner for wild type olfactory function and add another level of complexity to peripheral odor coding mechanisms that ultimately impact olfactory behavior.
Copyright (c) 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.