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Prog Neurobiol. 2006 Sep;80(1):1-19.

A review of neurohormone GPCRs present in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster and the honey bee Apis mellifera.

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Center for Functional and Comparative Insect Genomics, Department of Cell Biology and Comparative Zoology, Institute of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.


G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) genes are large gene families in every animal, sometimes making up to 1-2% of the animal's genome. Of all insect GPCRs, the neurohormone (neuropeptide, protein hormone, biogenic amine) GPCRs are especially important, because they, together with their ligands, occupy a high hierarchic position in the physiology of insects and steer crucial processes such as development, reproduction, and behavior. In this paper, we give a review of our current knowledge on Drosophila melanogaster GPCRs and use this information to annotate the neurohormone GPCR genes present in the recently sequenced genome from the honey bee Apis mellifera. We found 35 neuropeptide receptor genes in the honey bee (44 in Drosophila) and two genes, coding for leucine-rich repeats-containing protein hormone GPCRs (4 in Drosophila). In addition, the honey bee has 19 biogenic amine receptor genes (21 in Drosophila). The larger numbers of neurohormone receptors in Drosophila are probably due to gene duplications that occurred during recent evolution of the fly. Our analyses also yielded the likely ligands for 40 of the 56 honey bee neurohormone GPCRs identified in this study. In addition, we made some interesting observations on neurohormone GPCR evolution and the evolution and co-evolution of their ligands. For neuropeptide and protein hormone GPCRs, there appears to be a general co-evolution between receptors and their ligands. This is in contrast to biogenic amine GPCRs, where evolutionarily unrelated GPCRs often bind to the same biogenic amine, suggesting frequent ligand exchanges ("ligand hops") during GPCR evolution.

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