Ant Antennae-Specific Niemann-Pick Type C2 Protein
Ants are found in various ecological environments on the earth. To maintain the colony, worker ants have developed a highly sophisticated chemical communication system to detect semiochemicals, which convey information in a task-specific manner. Invasive ants cause economic damage and disrupt ecosystems. To control the ants, it is important to develop environmentally friendly regulatory methods based on the ants’ behaviors. Such methods could come from the analysis of the molecular basis of olfaction. In this chapter, I introduce discovery, characterization, structure, and phylogenetic analysis of a novel ant antenna-specific protein, the Niemann-Pick type C2 protein from the Japanese carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus (CjapNPC2). This unique β-structure-rich molecule can be a promising molecular target to specifically disturb chemical communication among the invasive ants. Alternatively, this protein may be used for reverse chemical ecological approaches to identify synthetic semiochemicals as attractants or repellents toward these ants.
We thank Dr. Toshimasa Yamazaki and Dr. Mitsuhiro Miyazawa at the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), and Dr. Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow at University of Oulu/Research Institute of Luminous Organisms in Hachijojima for valuable comments during manuscript preparation. This work was partly supported by the Global COE program for Global Center for Education and Research in Integrative Membrane Biology and JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 23580070 (to YI).
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