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Keywords:

  • chemosensory;
  • olfaction;
  • mosquito;
  • semiochemicals

Abstract

The yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti is an important human health pest which vectors yellow fever and dengue viruses. Olfaction plays a crucial role in its attraction to hosts and although the molecular basis of this is not well understood it is likely that odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) are involved in the first step of molecular recognition. Based on the OBPs of Drosophila melanogaster and Anopheles gambiae we have defined sequence motifs based on OBP conserved cysteine and developed an algorithm which has allowed us to identify 66 genes encoding putative OBPs from the genome sequence and expressed sequence tags (ESTs) of Ae. aegypti. We have also identified 11 new OBP genes for An. gambiae. We have examined all of the corresponding peptide sequences for the properties of OBPs. The predicted molecular weights fall within the expected range but the predicted isoeletric points are spread over a wider range than found previously. Comparative analyses of the 66 OBP sequences of Ae. aegypti with other dipteran species reveal some mosquito-specific genes as well as conserved homologues. The genomic organisation of Ae. aegypti OBPs suggests that a rapid expansion of OBPs has occurred, probably by gene duplication. The analyses of OBP-containing regions for microsynteny indicate a very high synteny between Ae. aegypti and An. gambiae.