, Volume 63, Issue 14, pp 1658-1676
Date: 19 Jun 2006

Soluble proteins in insect chemical communication

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Our understanding of the biochemical mechanisms that mediate chemoreception in insects has been greatly improved after the discovery of olfactory and taste receptor proteins. However, the presence of soluble polypeptides in high concentration around the dendrites of sensory neurons still poses unanswered questions. More than 2 decades after their discovery and despite the wealth of structural information available, the physiological function of odorant-binding proteins is not well understood. More recently, members of a second family of soluble polypeptides, the chemosensory proteins, were also discovered in the lymph of chemosensilla. Here we review the structural properties of both classes of soluble proteins, their affinity to small ligands, and their expression in the different parts of the insect body and subcellular localisation. Finally, we discuss current ideas and models of the role of such proteins in insect chemoreception.