Date of this Version
Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology, Vol. 81, No. 4, 179–198 (2012); DOI: 10.1002/arch.21042
Lygus hesperus (western tarnished plant bug) is an agronomically important pest species of numerous cropping systems. Similar to other insects, a critical component underlying behaviors is the perception and discrimination of olfactory cues. Consequently, the molecular basis of olfaction in this species is of interest. To begin to address this issue, we utilized homology-based PCR as a commonly accepted abbreviation but if necessary it is polymerase chain reaction methods to identify the L. hesperus olfactory receptor co-receptor (Orco) ortholog, a receptor that has been shown to be essential for olfaction. The L. hesperus Orco (LhOrco) shares significant sequence homology with known Orco proteins in other insects. Parallel experiments using the sympatric sister species, Lygus lineolaris (tarnished plant bug), revealed that the Lygus Orco gene was completely conserved. Surprisingly, a majority of the membrane topology prediction algorithms used in the study predicted LhOrco to have both the N and C terminus intracellular. In vitro immunofluorescent microscopy experiments designed to probe the membrane topology of transiently expressed LhOrco, however, refuted those predictions and confirmed that the protein adopts the inverted topology (intracellular N terminus and an extracellular C terminus) characteristic of Orco proteins. RT-PCR analyses indicated that LhOrco transcripts are predominantly expressed in adult antennae and to a lesser degree in traditionally nonolfactory chemosensory tissues of the proboscis and legs. Expression is not developmentally regulated because transcripts were detected in all nymphal stages as well as eggs. Taken together, the results suggest that LhOrco likely plays a critical role in mediating L. hesperus odorant perception and discrimination.