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In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (11)

Articles by Zainulabeuddin Syed in JoVE

 JoVE Neuroscience

Electrophysiological Measurements from a Moth Olfactory System

1Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis

JoVE 2489

Insect olfactory systems provide unique opportunities for recording odorant-induced responses in the forms of electroantennograms (EAG) and single sensillum recordings (SSR), which are summed responses from all odorant receptor neurons (ORNs) located on the antenna and from those housed in individual sensilla, respectively.

Other articles by Zainulabeuddin Syed on PubMed

Pheromone Reception in Fruit Flies Expressing a Moth's Odorant Receptor

We have expressed a male-specific, pheromone-sensitive odorant receptor (OR), BmorOR1, from the silkworm moth Bombyx mori in an "empty neuron" housed in the ab3 sensilla of a Drosophila Deltahalo mutant. Single-sensillum recordings showed that the BmorOR1-expressing neurons in the transgenic flies responded to the B. mori pheromone bombykol, albeit with low sensitivity. These transgenic flies responded to lower doses of bombykol in an altered stimulation method with direct delivery of pheromone into the sensillum milieu. We also expressed a B. mori pheromone-binding protein, BmorPBP, in the BmorOR1-expressing ab3 sensilla. Despite the low levels of BmorPBP expression, flies carrying both BmorOR1 and BmorPBP showed significantly higher electrophysiological responses than BmorOR1 flies. Both types of BmorOR1-expressing flies responded to bombykol, and to a lesser extent to a second compound, bombykal, even without the addition of organic solvents to the recording electrode buffer. When the semiochemicals were delivered by the conventional puffing of stimulus on the antennae, the receptor responded to bombykol but not to bombykal. The onset of response was remarkably slow, and neural activity extended for an unusually long time (>1 min) after the end of stimulus delivery. We hypothesize that BmorOR1-expressing ab3 sensilla lack a pheromone-degrading enzyme to rapidly inactivate bombykol and terminate the signal. We also found an endogenous receptor in one of the sensillum types on Drosophila antenna that responds to bombykol and bombykal with sensitivity comparable to the pheromone-detecting sensilla on B. mori male antennae.

The Molecular Receptive Range of an Olfactory Receptor in Vivo (Drosophila Melanogaster Or22a)

Understanding how odors are coded within an olfactory system requires knowledge about its input. This is constituted by the molecular receptive ranges (MRR) of olfactory sensory neurons that converge in the glomeruli of the olfactory bulb (vertebrates) or the antennal lobe (AL, insects). Aiming at a comprehensive characterization of MRRs in Drosophila melanogaster we measured odor-evoked calcium responses in olfactory sensory neurons that express the olfactory receptor Or22a. We used an automated stimulus application system to screen [Ca(2+)] responses to 104 odors both in the antenna (sensory transduction) and in the AL (neuronal transmission). At 10(-2) (vol/vol) dilution, 39 odors elicited at least a half-maximal response. For these odorants we established dose-response relationships over their entire dynamic range. We tested 15 additional chemicals that are structurally related to the most efficient odors. Ethyl hexanoate and methyl hexanoate were the best stimuli, eliciting consistent responses at dilutions as low as 10(-9). Two substances led to calcium decrease, suggesting that Or22a might be constitutively active, and that these substances might act as inverse agonists, reminiscent of G-protein coupled receptors. There was no difference between the antennal and the AL MRR. Furthermore we show that Or22a has a broad yet selective MRR, and must be functionally described both as a specialist and a generalist. Both these descriptions are ecologically relevant. Given that adult Drosophila use approximately 43 ORs, a complete description of all MRRs appears now in reach.

Maxillary Palps Are Broad Spectrum Odorant Detectors in Culex Quinquefasciatus

A single type of olfactory sensilla on maxillary palps in many species of mosquitoes houses a very sensitive olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) for carbon dioxide reception. We performed extensive single sensillum recordings from this peg sensillum in Culex quinquefasciatus and have characterized the response threshold and kinetics for CO(2) reception, with a detection threshold less than the CO(2) concentration in the atmosphere. This ORN responded in a tonic mode to lower concentrations of CO(2), whereas higher concentrations generated a phasic-tonic mode of action potential firing. Sensillum potentials accurately represented the response magnitude and kinetics of carbon dioxide-elicited excitatory responses. Stimulation of these ORNs with human breath, a complex mixture of mosquito kairomones and up to 4.5% CO(2), elicited excitatory responses that were reliably detected by CO(2)-sensitive ORNs. Another ORN housed in these sensilla responded to 1-octen-3-ol and to various plant-derived compounds, particularly floral and green leaf volatiles. This ORN showed remarkable sensitivity to the natural enantiomer, (R)-(-)-1-octen-3-ol, rivaling pheromone-detecting ORNs in moths. Maximum neuronal response was elicited with a 10 ng dose. A biological, ecological role of maxillary palps in detection of plant- and nectar-related sources is proposed.

Mosquitoes Smell and Avoid the Insect Repellent DEET

The insect repellent DEET is effective against a variety of medically important pests, but its mode of action still draws considerable debate. The widely accepted hypothesis that DEET interferes with the detection of lactic acid has been challenged by demonstrated DEET-induced repellency in the absence of lactic acid. The most recent hypothesis suggests that DEET masks or jams the olfactory system by attenuating electrophysiological responses to 1-octen-3-ol. Our research shows that mosquitoes smell DEET directly and avoid it. We performed single-unit recordings from all functional ORNs on the antenna and maxillary palps of Culex quinquefasciatus and found an ORN in a short trichoid sensillum responding to DEET in a dose-dependent manner. The same ORN responded with higher sensitivity to terpenoid compounds. SPME and GC analysis showed that odorants were trapped in conventional stimulus cartridges upon addition of a DEET-impregnated filter paper strip thus leading to the observed reduced electrophysiological responses, as reported elsewhere. With a new stimulus delivery method releasing equal amounts of 1-octen-3-ol alone or in combination with DEET we found no difference in neuronal responses. When applied to human skin, DEET altered the chemical profile of emanations by a "fixative" effect that may also contribute to repellency. However, the main mode of action is the direct detection of DEET as indicated by the evidence that mosquitoes are endowed with DEET-detecting ORNs and corroborated by behavioral bioassays. In a sugar-feeding assay, both female and male mosquitoes avoided DEET. In addition, mosquitoes responding only to physical stimuli avoided DEET.

Reverse and Conventional Chemical Ecology Approaches for the Development of Oviposition Attractants for Culex Mosquitoes

Synthetic mosquito oviposition attractants are sorely needed for surveillance and control programs for Culex species, which are major vectors of pathogens causing various human diseases, including filariasis, encephalitis, and West Nile encephalomyelitis. We employed novel and conventional chemical ecology approaches to identify potential attractants, which were demonstrated in field tests to be effective for monitoring populations of Cx. p. quinquefasciatus in human dwellings. Immunohistochemistry studies showed that an odorant-binding protein from this species, CquiOBP1, is expressed in trichoid sensilla on the antennae, including short, sharp-tipped trichoid sensilla type, which house an olfactory receptor neuron sensitive to a previously identified mosquito oviposition pheromone (MOP), 6-acetoxy-5-hexadecanolide. CquiOBP1 exists in monomeric and dimeric forms. Monomeric CquiOBP1 bound MOP in a pH-dependent manner, with a change in secondary structure apparently related to the loss of binding at low pH. The pheromone antipode showed higher affinity than the natural stereoisomer. By using both CquiOBP1 as a molecular target in binding assays and gas chromatography-electroantennographic detection (GC-EAD), we identified nonanal, trimethylamine (TMA), and skatole as test compounds. Extensive field evaluations in Recife, Brazil, a region with high populations of Cx. p. quinquefasciatus, showed that a combination of TMA (0.9 microg/l) and nonanal (0.15 ng/microl) is equivalent in attraction to the currently used infusion-based lure, and superior in that the offensive smell of infusions was eliminated in the newly developed synthetic mixture.

Acute Olfactory Response of Culex Mosquitoes to a Human- and Bird-derived Attractant

West Nile virus, which is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes while feeding on birds and humans, has emerged as the dominant vector borne disease in North America. We have identified natural compounds from humans and birds, which are detected with extreme sensitivity by olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) on the antennae of Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus (Cx. quinquefasciatus). One of these semiochemicals, nonanal, dominates the odorant spectrum of pigeons, chickens, and humans from various ethnic backgrounds. We determined the specificity and sensitivity of all ORN types housed in different sensilla types on Cx. quinquefasciatus antennae. Here, we present a comprehensive map of all antennal ORNs coding natural ligands and their dose-response functions. Nonanal is detected by a large array of sensilla and is by far the most potent stimulus; thus, supporting the assumption that Cx. quinquefasciatus can smell humans and birds. Nonanal and CO(2) synergize, thus, leading to significantly higher catches of Culex mosquitoes in traps baited with binary than in those with individual lures.

Chemical Ecology of Animal and Human Pathogen Vectors in a Changing Global Climate

Infectious diseases affecting livestock and human health that involve vector-borne pathogens are a global problem, unrestricted by borders or boundaries, which may be exacerbated by changing global climate. Thus, the availability of effective tools for control of pathogen vectors is of the utmost importance. The aim of this article is to review, selectively, current knowledge of the chemical ecology of pathogen vectors that affect livestock and human health in the developed and developing world, based on key note lectures presented in a symposium on "The Chemical Ecology of Disease Vectors" at the 25th Annual ISCE meeting in Neuchatel, Switzerland. The focus is on the deployment of semiochemicals for monitoring and control strategies, and discusses briefly future directions that such research should proceed along, bearing in mind the environmental challenges associated with climate change that we will face during the 21st century.

Knockdown of a Mosquito Odorant-binding Protein Involved in the Sensitive Detection of Oviposition Attractants

Odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) were discovered almost three decades ago, but there is still considerable debate regarding their role(s) in insect olfaction, particularly due to our inability to knockdown OBPs and demonstrate their direct phenotypic effects. By using RNA interference (RNAi), we reduced transcription of a major OBP gene, CquiOBP1, in the antennae of the Southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus. Previously, we had demonstrated that the mosquito oviposition pheromone (MOP) binds to CquiOBP1, which is expressed in MOP-sensitive sensilla. Antennae of RNAi-treated mosquitoes showed significantly lower electrophysiological responses to known mosquito oviposition attractants than the antennae of water-injected, control mosquitoes. While electroantennogram (EAG) responses to MOP, skatole, and indole were reduced in the knockdowns, there was no significant difference in the EAG responses from RNAi-treated and water-injected mosquito antennae to nonanal at all doses tested. These data suggest that CquiOBP1 is involved in the reception of some oviposition attractants, and that high levels of OBPs expression are essential for the sensitivity of the insect's olfactory system.

Bombykol Receptors in the Silkworm Moth and the Fruit Fly

Male moths are endowed with odorant receptors (ORs) to detect species-specific sex pheromones with remarkable sensitivity and selectivity. We serendipitously discovered that an endogenous OR in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is highly sensitive to the sex pheromone of the silkworm moth, bombykol. Intriguingly, the fruit fly detectors are more sensitive than the receptors of the silkworm moth, although its ecological significance is unknown. By expression in the "empty neuron" system, we identified the fruit fly bombykol-sensitive OR as DmelOR7a (= DmOR7a). The profiles of this receptor in response to bombykol in the native sensilla (ab4) or expressed in the empty neuron system (ab3 sensilla) are indistinguishable. Both WT and transgenic flies responded with high sensitivity, in a dose-dependent manner, and with rapid signal termination. In contrast, the same empty neuron expressing the moth bombykol receptor, BmorOR1, demonstrated low sensitivity and slow signal inactivation. When expressed in the trichoid sensilla T1 of the fruit fly, the neuron housing BmorOR1 responded with sensitivity comparable to that of the native trichoid sensilla in the silkworm moth. By challenging the native bombykol receptor in the fruit fly with high doses of another odorant to which the receptor responds with the highest sensitivity, we demonstrate that slow signal termination is induced by overdose of a stimulus. As opposed to the empty neuron system in the basiconic sensilla, the structural, biochemical, and/or biophysical features of the sensilla make the T1 trichoid system of the fly a better surrogate for the moth receptor.

Pheromone Binding to General Odorant-binding Proteins from the Navel Orangeworm

General odorant-binding proteins (GOBPs) of moths are postulated to be involved in the reception of semiochemicals other than sex pheromones, the so-called "general odorants." We have expressed two GOBPs, AtraGOBP1 and AtraGOBP2, which were previously isolated from the antennae of the navel orangeworm, Amyelois transitella. Surprisingly, these two proteins did not bind compounds that are known to attract adult moths, particularly females. The proper folding and functionality of the recombinant proteins was inferred from circular dichroism analysis and demonstration that both GOBPs bound nonanal in a pH-dependent manner. EAG experiments demonstrated that female attractants (1-phenylethanol, propionic acid phenyl ester, and isobutyric acid phenyl ester) are detected with high sensitivity by the antennae of day-0 to day-4 adult females, with response declining in older moths. The same age-dependence was shown for male antennae responding to constituents of the sex pheromone. Interestingly, AtraGOBP2 bound the major constituent of the sex pheromone, Z11Z13-16Ald, with affinity comparable to that shown by a pheromone-binding protein, AtraPBP1. The related alcohol bound to AtraPBP1 with higher affinity than to AtraGOBP2. AtraGOBP1 bound both ligands with low but nearly the same affinity.

Generic Insect Repellent Detector from the Fruit Fly Drosophila Melanogaster

Insect repellents are prophylactic tools against a number of vector-borne diseases. There is growing demand for repellents outperforming DEET in cost and safety, but with the current technologies R&D of a new product takes almost 10 years, with a prohibitive cost of $30 million dollar in part due to the demand for large-scale synthesis of thousands of test compounds of which only 1 may reach the market. R&D could be expedited and cost dramatically reduced with a molecular/physiological target to streamline putative repellents for final efficacy and toxicological tests.

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