, Volume 60, Issue 9, pp 1933-1943

Soluble proteins of chemical communication in the social wasp Polistes dominulus

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Members of the odorant-binding protein (OBP) and chemosensory protein (CSP) families were identified and characterised in the sensory tissues of the social wasp Polistes dominulus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Unlike most insects so far investigated, OBPs were detected in antennae, legs and wings, while CSPs appeared to be preferentially expressed in the antennae. The OBP is very different from the homologous proteins of other Hymenopteran species, with around 20% of identical residues, while the CSP appears to be much better conserved. Both OBP and CSP, not showing other post-translational modifications apart from disulphide bridges, were expressed with high yields in a bacterial system. Cysteine pairing in the recombinant and native proteins follows the classical arrangements described for other members of these classes of proteins. OBPs isolated from the wings were found to be associated with a number of long-chain aliphatic amides and other small organic molecules. Binding of these ligands and other related compounds was measured for both recombinant OBP and CSP.

Received 14 May 2003; received after revision 8 June 2003; accepted 12 June 2003