In the marine mollusk Aplysia californica, waterborne protein pheromones that are released during egg laying act in concert to stimulate mate attraction. However, molecular information concerning the cellular receptors and signaling mechanisms that may be involved in waterborne peptide and protein pheromonal communication is lacking. As a first step toward examining whether members of the G protein family and phosphoinositide signaling pathway are present in the primary peripheral chemosensory organs (i.e., rhinophores), we isolated five full-length cDNA clones from an A. californica central nervous system cDNA library. These clones encoded (1) the G protein α subunits of the Gq, Gi, and Go families, (2) a protein with homology to phospholipase C (PLC) isoforms, and (3) an inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R). The expression of these genes was examined using laser capture microdissection/reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization. All of them are expressed in the rhinophore sensory epithelium, suggesting that Gαq, Gαi, Gαo, PLC-like protein, and IP3R may be involved in waterborne protein pheromone detection in Aplysia-possibly via a phosphoinositide signaling mechanism.
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