Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Parasites & Vectors and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research

Transcriptome exploration of the sex pheromone gland of Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae)

Natalia González-Caballero1, Jesus G Valenzuela2, José MC Ribeiro2, Patricia Cuervo3 and Reginaldo P Brazil1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratório de Bioquímica e Fisiologia de Insetos, IOC, FIOCRUZ, Av. Brasil 4365, Manguinhos, Pav. Leônidas Deane, Sala 213, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, CEP: 21040-360, Brasil

2 Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, NIAID, NIH, Rockville, MD, USA

3 Laboratório de Pesquisa em Leishmaniose, IOC, FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil

For all author emails, please log on.

Parasites & Vectors 2013, 6:56  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-6-56

Published: 7 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Molecules involved in pheromone biosynthesis may represent alternative targets for insect population control. This may be particularly useful in managing the reproduction of Lutzomyia longipalpis, the main vector of the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum in Latin America. Besides the chemical identity of the major components of the L. longipalpis sex pheromone, there is no information regarding the molecular biology behind its production. To understand this process, obtaining information on which genes are expressed in the pheromone gland is essential.

Methods

In this study we used a transcriptomic approach to explore the pheromone gland and adjacent abdominal tergites in order to obtain substantial general sequence information. We used a laboratory-reared L. longipalpis (one spot, 9-Methyl GermacreneB) population, captured in Lapinha Cave, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil for this analysis.

Results

From a total of 3,547 cDNA clones, 2,502 high quality sequences from the pheromone gland and adjacent tissues were obtained and assembled into 1,387 contigs. Through blast searches of public databases, a group of transcripts encoding proteins potentially involved in the production of terpenoid precursors were identified in the 4th abdominal tergite, the segment containing the pheromone gland. Among them, protein-coding transcripts for four enzymes of the mevalonate pathway such as 3-hydroxyl-3-methyl glutaryl CoA reductase, phosphomevalonate kinase, diphosphomevalonate descarboxylase, and isopentenyl pyrophosphate isomerase were identified. Moreover, transcripts coding for farnesyl diphosphate synthase and NADP+ dependent farnesol dehydrogenase were also found in the same tergite. Additionally, genes potentially involved in pheromone transportation were identified from the three abdominal tergites analyzed.

Conclusion

This study constitutes the first transcriptomic analysis exploring the repertoire of genes expressed in the tissue containing the L. longipalpis pheromone gland as well as the flanking tissues. Using a comparative approach, a set of molecules potentially present in the mevalonate pathway emerge as interesting subjects for further study regarding their association to pheromone biosynthesis. The sequences presented here may be used as a reference set for future research on pheromone production or other characteristics of pheromone communication in this insect. Moreover, some matches for transcripts of unknown function may provide fertile ground of an in-depth study of pheromone-gland specific molecules.

Keywords:
Lutzomyia longipalpis; Male pheromone gland; Transcriptome; Mevalonate pathway