Odorant receptor-mediated sperm activation in disease vector mosquitoes.

Pitts RJ, Liu C, Zhou X, Malpartida JC, Zwiebel LJ
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 111 (7): 2566-71

PMID: 24550284 · PMCID: PMC3932880 · DOI:10.1073/pnas.1322923111

Insects, such as the malaria vector mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, depend upon chemoreceptors to respond to volatiles emitted from a range of environmental sources, most notably blood meal hosts and oviposition sites. A subset of peripheral signaling pathways involved in these insect chemosensory-dependent behaviors requires the activity of heteromeric odorant receptor (OR) ion channel complexes and ligands for numerous A. gambiae ORs (AgOrs) have been identified. Although AgOrs are expressed in nonhead appendages, studies characterizing potential AgOr function in nonolfactory tissues have not been conducted. In the present study, we explore the possibility that AgOrs mediate responses of spermatozoa to endogenous signaling molecules in A. gambiae. In addition to finding AgOr transcript expression in testes, we show that the OR coreceptor, AgOrco, is localized to the flagella of A. gambiae spermatozoa where Orco-specific agonists, antagonists, and other odorant ligands robustly activate flagella beating in an Orco-dependent process. We also demonstrate Orco expression and Orco-mediated activation of spermatozoa in the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Moreover, we find Orco localization in testes across distinct insect taxa and posit that OR-mediated responses in spermatozoa may represent a general characteristic of insect reproduction and an example of convergent evolution.

MeSH Terms (11)

Animals Anopheles Biological Assay Insect Vectors Male Receptors, Odorant Sequence Analysis, RNA Sperm Capacitation Sperm Tail Statistics, Nonparametric Testis

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