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Keywords:

  • octopamine;
  • tyramine;
  • receptor;
  • Drosophila

Abstract

The phenolamines tyramine and octopamine are decarboxylation products of the amino acid tyrosine. Although tyramine is the biological precursor of octopamine, both compounds are independent neurotransmitters, acting through various G-protein coupled receptors. Especially, octopamine modulates a plethora of behaviors, peripheral and sense organs. Both compounds are believed to be homologues of their vertebrate counterparts adrenaline and noradrenaline. They modulate behaviors and organs in a coordinated way, which allows the insects to respond to external stimuli with a fine tuned adequate response. As these two phenolamines are the only biogenic amines whose physiological significance is restricted to invertebrates, the attention of pharmacologists was focused on the corresponding receptors, which are still believed to represent promising targets for new insecticides. Recent progress made on all levels of octopamine/tyramine research enabled us to better understand the molecular events underlying the control of complex behaviors. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 54:1–13, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.