Characterization of an enantioselective odorant receptor in the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti

Jonathan D. Bohbot*, Joseph C. Dickens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Enantiomers differ only in the left or right handedness (chirality) of their orientations and exhibit identical chemical and physical properties. In chemical communication systems, enantiomers can be differentially active at the physiological and behavioral levels. Only recently were enantioselective odorant receptors demonstrated in mammals while their existence in insects has remained hypothetical. Using the two-microelectrode voltage clamp of Xenopus oocytes, we show that the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, odorant receptor 8 (AaOR8) acts as a chiral selective receptor for the (R)-(-)-enantiomer of 1-octen-3-ol, which in the presence of other kairomones is an attractant used by blood-sucking insects to locate their hosts. In addition to steric constraints, chain length and degree of unsaturation play important roles in this recognition process. This is the first characterization of an enantioselective odorant receptor in insects and the results demonstrate that an OR alone, without helper proteins, can account for chiral specificity exhibited by olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs).

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere7032
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


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