Molecular and Functional Characterization of Odorant-Binding Protein Genes in an Invasive Vector Mosquito, Aedes albopictus
Aedes albopictus is a major vector of dengue and Chikungunya viruses. Olfaction plays a vital role in guiding mosquito behaviors and contributes to their ability to transmit pathogens. Odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) are abundant in insect olfactory tissues and involved in the first step of odorant reception. While comprehensive descriptions are available of OBPs from Aedes aegypti, Culex quinquefasciatus and Anopheles gambiae, only a few genes from Ae. albopictus have been reported. In this study, twenty-one putative AalbOBP genes were cloned using their homologues in Ae. aegypti to query an Ae. albopictus partial genome sequence. Two antenna-specific OBPs, AalbOBP37 and AalbOBP39, display a remarkable similarity in their overall folding and binding pockets, according to molecular modeling. Binding affinity assays indicated that AalbOBP37 and AalbOBP39 had overlapping ligand affinities and are affected in different pH condition. Electroantennagrams (EAG) and behavioral tests show that these two genes were involved in olfactory reception. An improved understanding of the Ae. albopictus OBPs is expected to contribute to the development of more efficient and environmentally-friendly mosquito control strategies.