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The Department of Entomology
The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Kythreoti, G. ; Sdralia, N. ; Tsitoura, P. ; Papachristos, D. P. ; Michaelakis, A. ; Karras, V. ; Ruel, D. M. ; Yakir, E. ; Bohbot, J. D. ; Schulz, S. ; et al. Volatile allosteric antagonists of mosquito odorant receptors inhibit human-host attraction. JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY 2021, 296.Abstract
Odorant-dependent behaviors in insects are triggered by the binding of odorant ligands to the variable subunits of heteromeric olfactory receptors. Previous studies have shown, however, that specific odor binding to ORco, the common subunit of odorant receptor heteromers, may allosterically alter olfactory receptor function and profoundly affect subsequent behavioral responses. Using an insect cell-based screening platform, we identified and characterized several antagonists of the odorant receptor coreceptor of the African malaria vector Anopheles gambiae (AgamORco) in a small collection of natural volatile organic compounds. Because some of the identified antagonists were previously shown to strongly repel Anopheles and Culex mosquitoes, we examined the bioactivities of the identified antagonists against Aedes, the third major genus of the Culicidae family. The tested antagonists inhibited the function of Ae. aegypti ORco ex vivo and repelled adult Asian tiger mosquitoes (Ae. albopictus). Binary mixtures of specific antagonists elicited higher repellency than single antagonists, and binding competition assays suggested that this enhanced repellence is due to antagonist interaction with distinct ORco sites. Our results also suggest that the enhanced mosquito repellency by antagonist mixtures is due to additive rather than synergistic effects of the specific antagonist combinations on ORco function. Taken together, these findings provide novel insights concerning the molecular aspects of odorant receptor function. Moreover, our results demonstrate that a simple screening assay may be used for the identification of allosteric modifiers of olfactory-driven behaviors capable of providing enhanced personal protection against multiple mosquito-borne infectious diseases.
Ruel, D. M. ; Vainer, Y. ; Yakir, E. ; Bohbot, J. D. Identification and functional characterization of olfactory indolergic receptors in Drosophila melanogaster. INSECT BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY 2021, 139.Abstract
Indole-sensitive odorant receptors or indolORs belong to a mosquito-specific expansion as ancient as the Culicidae lineage. Brachyceran flies appeared to lack representative members of this group despite the importance of indolics in this important group of dipterans. To explore whether indolORs occur in other brachyceran species, we searched for candidate indolORs in Drosophila melanogaster. Using phylogenetic tools, we show that D. melanogaster OR30a, OR43a, and OR49b form a distinct monophyletic lineage with mosquito indolORs. To explore a potential functional orthology with indolORs, we expressed these three Drosophila ORs in Xenopus laevis oocytes and measured their responses to a panel of indolic compounds. We provide evidence that OR30a, OR43a, and OR49b exhibit high sensitivity to indoles. Along with the recent discovery of indolORs in the housefly Musca domestica, our findings suggest that indolORs are a widespread feature of the peripheral olfactory systems of Diptera.
Bohbot, J. D. ; Vernick, S. The Emergence of Insect Odorant Receptor-Based Biosensors. BIOSENSORS-BASEL 2020, 10.Abstract
The olfactory receptor neurons of insects and vertebrates are gated by odorant receptor (OR) proteins of which several members have been shown to exhibit remarkable sensitivity and selectivity towards volatile organic compounds of significant importance in the fields of medicine, agriculture and public health. Insect ORs offer intrinsic amplification where a single binding event is transduced into a measurable ionic current. Consequently, insect ORs have great potential as biorecognition elements in many sensor configurations. However, integrating these sensing components onto electronic transducers for the development of biosensors has been marginal due to several drawbacks, including their lipophilic nature, signal transduction mechanism and the limited number of known cognate receptor-ligand pairs. We review the current state of research in this emerging field and highlight the use of a group of indole-sensitive ORs (indolORs) from unexpected sources for the development of biosensors.
Bohbot, J. D. The narrowing olfactory landscape of insect odorant receptors. CHEMICAL SENSES 2020, 45, 140.
Dekel, A. ; Yakir, E. ; Bohbot, J. D. Mosquito olfaction: conserved odorant receptors, multiple ecological roles. CHEMICAL SENSES 2020, 45, 141.
Dekel, A. ; Yakir, E. ; Bohbot, J. D. The sulcatone receptor of the strict nectar-feeding mosquito Toxorhynchites amboinensis. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2019, 111, 103174. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Controlling Ae. aegypti populations and the prevention of mosquito bites includes the development of monitoring, repelling and attract-and-kill strategies that are based on understanding the chemical ecology of these pests. Olfactory-mediated attraction to mammals has recently been linked to the mosquito Aedes aegypti odorant receptor Or4, which is activated by animal-released 6-Methyl-5-hepten-2-one (sulcatone). This odorant is also a major component of flower scents and may play a role outside animal-host seeking. To explore the role of this chemical cue, we looked at the interaction between sulcatone and an Or4 homolog expressed in the antennae of the strict nectar-feeding mosquito Toxorhynchites amboinensis. Using the two-electrode voltage clamp of Xenopus oocytes as a heterologous expression system, we show that this receptor is a high intensity sulcatone receptor comparable to its Aedes counterparts. We also show that OR4 is activated by other aliphatic ketones and is inhibited by DEET. This pharmacological characterization suggests that sulcatone may be operating in more than one context in the Culicidae family.
Ruel, D. ; Yakir, E. ; Bohbot, J. D. Supersensitive Odorant Receptor Underscores Pleiotropic Roles of Indoles in Mosquito Ecology. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 2019, 12, 533. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Mosquitoes exhibit highly diverse and fast evolving odorant receptors. The indole-sensitive odorant receptor gene clade, comprised of Or2 and Or10 is a notable exception on account of its conservation in both mosquito subfamilies. This group of paralogous genes exhibits a complex developmental expression pattern in Aedes aegypti: AaegOr2 is expressed in both adults and larvae, AaegOr10 is adult-specific and a third member named AaegOr9 is larva-specific. OR2 and OR10 have been deorphanized and are selectively activated by indole and skatole, respectively. Using the two-electrode voltage clamp of Xenopus oocytes expressing Ae. aegypti ORs, we show that AaegOR9 is supersensitive and narrowly tuned to skatole. Our findings suggest that Ae. aegypti has evolved two distinct molecular strategies to detect skatole in aquatic and terrestrial environments, highlighting the central ecological roles of indolic compounds in the evolutionary and life histories of these insects.
Dekel, A. ; Yakir, E. ; Bohbot, J. D. The evolutionarily conserved indolergic receptors of the non-hematophagous elephant mosquito Toxorhynchites amboinensis. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2019, 110, 45 - 51. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The conservation of the mosquito indolergic receptors across the Culicinae and Anophelinae mosquito lineages, which spans 200 million years of evolution, is a testament to the central role of indolic compounds in the biology of these insects. Indole and skatole have been associated with the detection of oviposition sites and animal hosts. To evaluate the potential ecological role of these two compounds, we have used a pharmacological approach to characterize homologs of the indolergic receptors Or2 and Or10 in the non-hematophagous elephant mosquito Toxorhynchites amboinensis. We provide evidence that both receptors are narrowly tuned to indole and skatole like their counterparts from hematophagous mosquitoes. These findings indicate that Toxorhynchites detects indole and skatole in an ecological context to be determined and underscore the importance of understanding the role of these compounds in mosquitoes.
Sparks, J. T. ; Bohbot, J. D. ; Ristić, M. ; Mišić, D. ; Skorić, M. ; Mattoo, A. ; Dickens, J. C. Chemosensory Responses to the Repellent Nepeta Essential Oil and Its Major Component Nepetalactone by Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae), a Vector of Zika Virus. Journal of Medical Entomology 2017, 54, 957 - 963. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Nepeta essential oil (Neo; catnip) and its major component, nepetalactone, have long been known to repel insects including mosquitoes. However, the neural mechanisms through which these repellents are detected by mosquitoes, including the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.), an important vector of Zika virus, were poorly understood. Here we show that Neo volatiles activate olfactory receptor neurons within the basiconic sensilla on the maxillary palps of female Ae. aegypti. A gustatory receptor neuron sensitive to the feeding deterrent quinine and housed within sensilla on the labella of females was activated by both Neo and nepetalactone. Activity of a second gustatory receptor neuron sensitive to the feeding stimulant sucrose was suppressed by both repellents. Our results provide neural pathways for the reported spatial repellency and feeding deterrence of these repellents. A better understanding of the neural input through which female mosquitoes make decisions to feed will facilitate design of new repellents and management strategies involving their use.
Dekel, A. ; Pitts, R. J. ; Yakir, E. ; Bohbot, J. D. Evolutionarily conserved odorant receptor function questions ecological context of octenol role in mosquitoes. 2016, 6 37330. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Olfaction is a key insect adaptation to a wide range of habitats. In the last thirty years, the detection of octenol by blood-feeding insects has been primarily understood in the context of animal host-seeking. The recent discovery of a conserved octenol receptor gene in the strictly nectar-feeding elephant mosquito Toxorhynchites amboinensis (TaOr8) suggests a different biological role. Here, we show that TaOR8 is a functional ortholog of its counterparts in blood-feeding mosquitoes displaying selectivity towards the (R)-enantiomer of octenol and susceptibility to the insect repellent DEET. These findings suggest that while the function of OR8 has been maintained throughout mosquito evolution, the context in which this receptor is operating has diverged in blood and nectar-feeding mosquitoes.