Biogenic amine receptors are involved in the regulation and modulation of various physiological and behavioral processes in both vertebrates and invertebrates. We have cloned a member of this gene family from the CNS of the honeybee, Apis mellifera. The deduced amino acid sequence is homologous to tyramine receptors cloned from Locusta migratoria and Drosophila melanogaster as well as to an octopamine receptor cloned from Heliothis virescens. Functional properties of the honeybee receptor were studied in stably transfected human embryonic kidney 293 cells. Tyramine reduced forskolin-induced cyclic AMP production in a dose-dependent manner with an EC50 of approximately 130 nM. A similar effect of tyramine was observed in membrane homogenates of honeybee brains. Octopamine also reduced cyclic AMP production in the transfected cell line but was both less potent (EC50 of approximately 3 microM) and less efficacious than tyramine. Receptor-encoding mRNA has a wide-spread distribution in the brain and subesophageal ganglion of the honeybee, suggesting that this tyramine receptor is involved in sensory signal processing as well as in higher-order brain functions.