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Molecular messages from the antennae
Date:4/15/2011

end up in the insect's brain?" asks Bill Hansson, director of the Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology founded in 2006 at the Max Planck Institute.

The scientists identified the antennal transcriptome as an important basis for studying olfactory function of the insect and sequenced active genes in the antennae completely. Additionally, they determined the amount of individual messenger RNAs (mRNAs) that belong to each gene. Sequence information which involved more than 66 million nucleotides was analyzed. Basically, the results can be summarized as follows: i.) Manduca sexta has 18 specific odorant binding proteins (OBPs) and 21 chemosensory proteins (CSPs). ii.) Manduca males possess 68 different odorant receptors, each expressed in a specific type of neuron coupled to a corresponding glomerulus in the brain, whereas females have 70 of these "response units". Most of the receptors could be identified in the course of these studies. iii.) 69% of the transcripts could not be annotated to a specific gene function: their role in the antennae is so far unknown. Presumably there are many more neural mechanisms of stimulus processing in the antennae that are yet to be elucidated. Some mRNAs imply that there is intense enzymatic activity, esterases for instance; there is also a larger amount of transcripts that regulate gene expression, indicating that the antenna can adapt to new situations by gene regulation. iv.) Antennal genetics do not seem particularly complex: For comparison: there are almost twice as many active genes in the larval midgut as in the antennae of an adult moth. Only 348 genes are exclusively expressed in males; females, after all, claim 729 genes as their own. This may be due to their life sustaining formula to lay their fertilized eggs in ideal places, such as wild tobacco leaves, where young larvae can feed. [JWK, AO]


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Contact: Bill S. Hansson
hansson@ice.mpg.de
49-364-157-1400
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Source:Eurekalert  

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