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Keywords:

  • antennal lobe;
  • insects;
  • immunocytochemistry;
  • local interneurons;
  • MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry;
  • neuropeptidomics;
  • SIFamide;
  • projection neurons;
  • single cell analysis

Abstract

A multitude of potential neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, including peptides, have been detected in the antennal lobe (AL), the first synaptic relay of the central olfactory pathway in the insect brain. However, the functional role of neuropeptides in this system has yet to be revealed. An important prerequisite to understanding the role of neuropeptides is to match the functionally different cell types in the AL with their peptide profiles by using electrophysiological recordings combined with immunocytochemical studies and/or single-cell mass spectrometry. The olfactory system of Periplaneta americana is particularly well suited to accomplish this goal because several physiologically distinct neuron types can be unequivocally identified. With the aim to analyze the neuropeptide inventory of the P. americana AL, this study is an essential step in this direction. First, we systematically analyzed different parts of the AL by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry to obtain the complete set of neuropeptides present. Altogether, 56 ion signals could be assigned to products of 10 neuropeptide genes (allatostatins A, B, C, SIFamide, allatotropin, FMRFamide-related peptides [myosuppressin, short neuropeptides F, extended FMRFamides], crustacean cardioactive peptide, tachykinin-related peptides). In a second step, a combination of immunocytochemistry and mass spectrometric profiling of defined AL compartments was used to reveal the spatial distribution of neuropeptide-containing cells. Finally, we demonstrated the feasibility of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometric profiling of single AL neurons, which is an important precondition for combining electrophysiology with peptide profiling at the single-cell level. J. Comp. Neurol., 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.