Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Accessory protein determines whether pheromones are detected

Pheromones are like the molecules you taste as you chomp on a greasy french fry: big and fatty. In research to be published in the October 17 advance online issue of Nature, Rockefeller University researchers reveal an unanticipated role for a new CD36-like protein to help cells detect these invisible communication signals that drive a wide range of behaviors, from recognizing a sibling to courting a mate, a finding that may explain what pheromone communication, pathogen recognition and fat taste perception all have in common.

Scientists led by Leslie Vosshall, head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, have found that this protein, called SNMP, or Sensory Neuron Membrane Protein, plays an accessory, yet essential role in helping neurons detect pheromones. Although SNMP plays a specific role in insect pheromone detection, it is a member of the CD36 family of proteins, members of which are found on the surfaces of many cells and have diverse roles, ranging from fatty-acid breakdown to innate immunity.

The pheromone that Vosshall and her colleagues tested, cVA, also known as cis-vaccenyl acetate, binds to a receptor complex and induces aggregation in Drosophila melanogaster. "I think of it as a 'party pheromone,'" says Vosshall. "If a few male flies are hanging out, other flies, male and female, will smell the cVA and tend to gather, and if the mood hits them, the males will court the females that join the group." When Drosophila do mate, the male transfers cVA to the female and marks her as taken, making her less interesting to other males. Prior research has implicated the receptor complex in pheromone detection, but this is the first time researchers have shown that SNMP is essential for neurons to respond to these signals.

When neurons detect cVA, those that express SNMP fire very rapidly, a response not seen in neurons that lack SNMP. However, when mutants were reengineered to express the protein, this response was restored. When flies were engineered to express a moth pheromone receptor, these fly neurons got excited by moth pheromone, and this response also required SNMP. So SNMP seems to be essential for handing off insect pheromones of all types, and will probably be important for pheromone reception in all insects.

... more about:
»CD36 »Protein »SNMP »Vosshall »cVA »neurons »receptor

In this study, Vosshall and her colleagues present a unifying mechanism of action for CD36 proteins, despite their wide range of biological functions. "Our work suggests that wherever you have lipid-like molecules that need to be detected or captured by cells, these CD36 proteins appear to be necessary to grab these molecules and present them to a specific cell-surface receptor," says Vosshall.

In the case of immune recognition, a CD36 protein grabs a bacterial lipid fragment and delivers it to its receptor. These proteins are also found in the tongue, where CD36 has been suggested to function as a fat taste receptor. Based on the SNMP work, Vosshall suspects that CD36 probably plays an accessory, yet essential role - it binds that big, fatty molecule from your french fry and presents it to the real, as yet unidentified, fat taste receptor.

Thania Benios | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: CD36 Protein SNMP Vosshall cVA neurons receptor

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>