Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 282, Issue 2, pp 203–217 | Cite as

Immunolocalization of pheromone-binding protein and general odorant-binding protein in olfactory sensilla of the silk moths Antheraea and Bombyx

  • R. A. Steinbrecht
  • M. Laue
  • G. Ziegelberger


The distribution of odorant-binding proteins among olfactory sensilla of three moth species was studied by immuno-electron microscopy. Two polyclonal antisera were used in a post-embedding labelling protocol on sections of cryo-substituted antennae. The first was directed against the pheromone-binding protein (PBP) of Antheraea polyphemus, the second against the general odorant-binding protein (GOBP) of the same species. Immunoblots showed that these antisera were highly specific; both antisera did, however, cross-react with related proteins in the related species A. pernyi, and in the bombycid moth B. mori. PBP and GOBP were localized only in olfactory sensilla trichodea and sensilla basiconica, the principal site being the sensillum lymph surrounding the sensory dendrites. In the males of all three species, the pheromone-sensitive long sensilla trichodea exclusively contained PBP. the majority of the sensilla basiconica in both sexes in these species contained GOBP; these sensilla are known to respond to plant and other ‘general’ odours. Some sensilla were not labelled by either antiserum; presumably, these held an odorantbinding protein of a different subfamily. Never were PBP and GOBP co-localized in the same sensillum. Two observations deserve special attention: (1) PBP was also found in a few sensilla in females, and (2) in B. mori, where the long sensilla trichodea have a different functional specificity in males (pheromone) and females (plant odours), the expression of the odorant-binding protein (males: PBP; females: GOBP) is similarly different. The distinct and complex distribution pattern of odorant-binding proteins supports the notion that these proteins participate in stimulus recognition.

Key words

Olfaction Odorant-binding protein Sensillum trichodeum Sensillum basiconicum Cryo-substitution Immunogold labelling Antheraea polyphemus Antheraea pernyi, Bombyx mor (Insecta) 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. A. Steinbrecht
    • 1
  • M. Laue
    • 1
  • G. Ziegelberger
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für VerhaltensphysiologieSeewiesenGermany

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