Insects detect environmental chemicals using chemosensory receptors, such as the ORs, a family of odorant-gated ion channels. Insect ORs are multimeric complexes of unknown stoichiometry, formed by a common subunit (the odorant receptor co-receptor subunit, Orco) and one of many variable subunits that confer odorant specificity. The recent discovery of Orco directed ligands, including both agonists and antagonists, suggests Orco as a promising target for chemical control of insects. In addition to competitively inhibiting OR activation by Orco agonists, several Orco antagonists have been shown to act through a non-competitive mechanism to inhibit OR activation by odorants. We previously identified a series of Orco antagonists, including N-(4-ethylphenyl)-2-thiophenecarboxamide (OX1a, previously referred to as OLC20). Here, we explore the chemical space around the OX1a structure to identify more potent Orco antagonists. Cqui\Orco+Cqui\Or21, an OR from Culex quinquefasciatus (the Southern House Mosquito) that responds to 3-methylindole (skatole) and is thought to mediate oviposition behavior, was expressed in Xenopus oocytes and receptor function assayed by two-electrode voltage clamp electrophysiology. 22 structural analogs of OX1a were screened for antagonism of OR activation by an Orco agonist. By varying the moieties decorating the phenyl and thiophene rings, and altering the distance between the rings, we were able to identify antagonists with improved potency. Detailed examination of three of these compounds (N-mesityl-2-thiophenecarboxamide, N-(4-methylbenzyl)-2- thiophenecarboxamide and N-(2-ethylphenyl)-3-(2-thienyl)-2-propenamide) demonstrated competitive inhibition of receptor activation by an Orco agonist and non-competitive inhibition of receptor activation by an odorant. The ability to inhibit OR activation by odorants may be a general property of this class of Orco antagonist, suggesting that odorant mediated behaviors can be manipulated through Orco antagonism. The high conservation of Orco across insect species and previous demonstrations that various Orco ligands are active at ORs derived from several different insect orders suggests that Orco antagonists may have broad applicability.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)