Am5-HT7: molecular and pharmacological characterization of the first serotonin receptor of the honeybee (Apis mellifera)


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Wolfgang Blenau, University of Potsdam, Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, Animal Physiology, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24–25, Haus 26, D-14476 Golm, Germany. E-mail:


The biogenic amine serotonin (5-HT) plays a key role in the regulation and modulation of many physiological and behavioural processes in both vertebrates and invertebrates. These functions are mediated through the binding of serotonin to its receptors, of which 13 subtypes have been characterized in vertebrates. We have isolated a cDNA from the honeybee Apis mellifera (Am5-ht7) sharing high similarity to members of the 5-HT7 receptor family. Expression of the Am5-HT7 receptor in HEK293 cells results in an increase in basal cAMP levels, suggesting that Am5-HT7 is expressed as a constitutively active receptor. Serotonin application to Am5-ht7-transfected cells elevates cyclic adenosine 3′,5′-monophosphate (cAMP) levels in a dose-dependent manner (EC50 = 1.1–1.8 nm). The Am5-HT7 receptor is also activated by 5-carboxamidotryptamine, whereas methiothepin acts as an inverse agonist. Receptor expression has been investigated by RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, and western blotting experiments. Receptor mRNA is expressed in the perikarya of various brain neuropils, including intrinsic mushroom body neurons, and in peripheral organs. This study marks the first comprehensive characterization of a serotonin receptor in the honeybee and should facilitate further analysis of the role(s) of the receptor in mediating the various central and peripheral effects of 5-HT.