Invertebrate D2 type dopamine receptor exhibits age-based plasticity of expression in the mushroom bodies of the honeybee brain



We have isolated a cDNA clone from the honeybee brain encoding a dopamine receptor, AmDop2, which is positively coupled to adenylyl cyclase. The transmembrane domains of this receptor are 88% identical to the orthologous Drosophila D2 dopamine receptor, DmDop2, though phylogenetic analysis and sequence homology both indicate that invertebrate and vertebrate D2 receptors are quite distinct. In situ hybridization to mRNA in whole-mount preparations of honeybee brains reveals gene expression in the mushroom bodies, a primary site of associative learning. Furthermore, two anatomically distinct cell types in the mushroom bodies exhibit differential regulation of AmDop2 expression. In all nonreproductive females (worker caste) and reproductive males (drones) the receptor gene is strongly and constitutively expressed in all mushroom body interneurons with small cell bodies. In contrast, the large cell-bodied interneurons exhibit dramatic plasticity of AmDop2 gene expression. In newly emerged worker bees (cell-cleaning specialists) and newly emerged drones, no AmDop2 transcript is observed in the large interneurons whereas this transcript is abundant in these cells in the oldest worker bees (resource foragers) and older drones. Differentiation of the mushroom body interneurons into two distinct classes (i.e., plastic or nonplastic with respect to AmDop2 gene expression) indicates that this receptor contributes to the differential regulation of distinct neural circuits. Moreover, the plasticity of expression observed in the large cells implicates this receptor in the behavioral maturation of the bee. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Neurobiol 55: 315–330, 2003