Topological and Functional Characterization of an Insect Gustatory Receptor
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Insect gustatory receptors are predicted to have a seven-transmembrane structure and are distantly related to insect olfactory receptors, which have an inverted topology compared with G-protein coupled receptors, including mammalian olfactory receptors. In contrast, the topology of insect gustatory receptors remains unknown. Except for a few examples from Drosophila, the specificity of individual insect gustatory receptors is also unknown. In this study, the total number of identified gustatory receptors in Bombyx mori was expanded from 65 to 69. BmGr8, a silkmoth gustatory receptor from the sugar receptor subfamily, was expressed in insect cells. Membrane topology studies on BmGr8 indicate that, like insect olfactory receptors, it has an inverted topology relative to G protein-coupled receptors. An orphan GR from the bitter receptor family, BmGr53, yielded similar results. We infer, from the finding that two distantly related BmGrs have an intracellular N-terminus and an odd number of transmembrane spans, that this is likely to be a general topology for all insect gustatory receptors. We also show that BmGr8 functions independently in Sf9 cells and responds in a concentration-dependent manner to the polyalcohols myo-inositol and epi-inositol but not to a range of mono- and di-saccharides. BmGr8 is the first chemoreceptor shown to respond specifically to inositol, an important or essential nutrient for some Lepidoptera. The selectivity of BmGr8 responses is consistent with the known responses of one of the gustatory receptor neurons in the lateral styloconic sensilla of B. mori, which responds to myo-inositol and epi-inositol but not to allo-inositol.