Functional characterization of the dual allatostatin-A receptors in mosquitoes
The neuropeptide allatostatin-A (AstA) and its cognate receptors (AstARs) are involved in the modulation of feeding behavior, which in hematophagous insects includes the regulation of the disease vector-related behaviors, host seeking and blood feeding. In mosquitoes and other dipterans, there are two copies of AstAR, contrasting with the single copy found in other insects. In this study, we identified and cloned the dual AstAR system of two important disease vectors Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus, and compared them with those previously described, including those in Anopheles coluzzii and Drosophila melanogaster. Phylogenetic analysis of the AstARs revealed that the mosquito AstAR1s has retained a similar amino acid sequence as the AstARs from non-dipteran insect species. Intron analysis revealed that the number of introns accumulated in the AstAR2s is similar to that in other insects, and that introns are conserved within the receptor types, but that only the final two introns are conserved across AstAR1s and 2s. We functionally characterized the dual AstARs in An. coluzzii, Ae. aegypti and Cx. quinquefasciatus by stably expressing the receptors in a Chinese hamster oocyte cell line (CHO) also stably expressing a promiscuous G-protein (G16), and challenged them with the endogenous isoforms of AstA from the three mosquito species. In the culicine mosquitoes, Ae. aegypti and Cx. quinquefasciatus, the AstARs demonstrated differential sensitivity to AstA, with the AstAR2s displaying a higher sensitivity than the AstAR1s, suggesting a divergence of functional roles for these AstARs. In contrast, both An. coluzzii AstARs demonstrated a similar sensitivity to the AstA ligands. We discuss our findings in the light of AstA acting as a regulator of blood feeding in mosquitoes. A better understanding of the regulation of host seeking and blood feeding in vector mosquitoes will lead to the rational development of novel approaches for vector control.