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Keywords:

  • odorant-binding protein;
  • mosquito;
  • Anopheles gambiae;
  • Anopheles arabiensis;
  • olfaction;
  • semi-quantitative RT-PCR

Abstract

Host preference and blood feeding are restricted to female mosquitoes. Olfaction plays a major role in host-seeking behaviour, which is likely to be associated with a subset of mosquito olfactory genes. Proteins involved in olfaction include the odorant receptors (ORs) and the odorant-binding proteins (OBPs). OBPs are thought to function as a carrier within insect antennae for transporting odours to the olfactory receptors. Here we report the annotation of 32 genes encoding putative OBPs in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae and their tissue-specific expression in two mosquito species of the Anopheles complex; a highly anthropophilic species An. gambiae sensu stricto and an opportunistic, but more zoophilic species, An. arabiensis. RT-PCR shows that some of the genes are expressed mainly in head tissue and a subset of these show highest expression in female heads. One of the genes (agCP1588) which has not been identified as an OBP, has a high similarity (40%) to the Drosophila pheromone-binding protein 4 (PBPRP4) and is only expressed in heads of both An. gambiae and An. arabiensis, and at higher levels in female heads. Two genes (agCP3071 and agCP15554) are expressed only in female heads and agC15554 also shows higher expression levels in An. gambiae. The expression profiles of the genes in the two members of the Anopheles complex provides the first step towards further molecular analysis of the mosquito olfactory apparatus. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 58:175–189, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.