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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36538. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036538. Epub 2012 May 14.

Molecular and functional characterization of the odorant receptor2 (OR2) in the tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus.

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  • 1Institute of Genetics and Biophysics A. Buzzati-Traverso, CNR, Naples, Italy.


In mosquitoes, the olfactory system plays a crucial role in many types of behavior, including nectar feeding, host preference selection and oviposition. Aedes albopictus, known also as the tiger mosquito, is an anthropophilic species, which in the last few years, due to its strong ecological plasticity, has spread throughout the world. Although long considered only a secondary vector of viruses, the potential of its vector capacity may constitute a threat to public health. Based on the idea that an improved understanding of the olfactory system of mosquitoes may assist in the development of control methods that interfere with their behavior, we have undertaken a study aimed at characterizing the A. albopictus Odorant Receptors. Here we report the identification, cloning and functional characterization of the AalOR2 ortholog, that represents the first candidate member of the odorant receptor (OR) family of proteins from A. albopictus. AalOR2 is expressed in the larval heads and antennae of adults. Our data indicate that A. albopictus OR2 (AalOR2) shares a high degree of identity with other mosquito OR2 orthologs characterized to date, confirming that OR2 is one of the most conserved mosquito ORs. Our data indicate that AalOR2 is narrowly tuned to indole, and inhibited by (-)-menthone. In agreement with this results, these two compounds elicit two opposite effects on the olfactory-based behavior of A. albopictus larvae, as determined through a larval behavioral assay. In summary, this work has led to the cloning and de-orphaning of the first Odorant Receptor in the tiger mosquito A. albopictus. In future control strategies this receptor may be used as a potential molecular target.

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