Involvement of the G-protein-coupled dopamine/ecdysteroid receptor DopEcR in the behavioral response to sex pheromone in an insect

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 4;8(9):e72785. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072785. eCollection 2013.

Abstract

Most animals including insects rely on olfaction to find their mating partners. In moths, males are attracted by female-produced sex pheromones inducing stereotyped sexual behavior. The behaviorally relevant olfactory information is processed in the primary olfactory centre, the antennal lobe (AL). Evidence is now accumulating that modulation of sex-linked behavioral output occurs through neuronal plasticity via the action of hormones and/or catecholamines. A G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) binding to 20-hydroxyecdysone, the main insect steroid hormone, and dopamine, has been identified in Drosophila (DmDopEcR), and was suggested to modulate neuronal signaling. In the male moth Agrotis ipsilon, the behavioral and central nervous responses to pheromone are age-dependent. To further unveil the mechanisms of this olfactory plasticity, we searched for DopEcR and tested its potential role in the behavioral response to sex pheromone in A. ipsilon males. Our results show that A. ipsilon DopEcR (named AipsDopEcR) is predominantly expressed in the nervous system. The corresponding protein was detected immunohistochemically in the ALs and higher brain centers including the mushroom bodies. Moreover, AipsDopEcR expression increased with age. Using a strategy of RNA interference, we also show that silencing of AipsDopEcR inhibited the behavioral response to sex pheromone in wind tunnel experiments. Altogether our results indicate that this GPCR is involved in the expression of sexual behavior in the male moth, probably by modulating the central nervous processing of sex pheromone through the action of one or both of its ligands.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Ecdysterone / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Moths
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Receptors, Steroid / genetics
  • Receptors, Steroid / metabolism*
  • Sex Attractants / pharmacology*

Substances

  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Sex Attractants
  • ecdysteroid receptor
  • Ecdysterone

Grant support

This work was supported by a grant to SA and C. Gadenne and a PhD grant to AA from “Région Pays de la Loire”. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.