Volatile allosteric antagonists of mosquito odorant receptors inhibit human-host attraction

Georgia Kythreoti, Nadia Sdralia, Panagiota Tsitoura, Dimitrios P. Papachristos, Antonios Michaelakis, Vasileios Karras, David M. Ruel, Esther Yakir, Jonathan D. Bohbot, Stefan Schulz, Kostas Iatrou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Odorant-dependent behaviors in insects are triggered by the binding of odorant ligands to the variable subunits of hetero meric olfactory receptors. Previous studies have shown, how ever, that specific odor binding to ORco, the common subunit of odorant receptor heteromers, may allosterically alter olfac tory receptor function and profoundly affect subsequent behavioral responses. Using an insect cell-based screening platform, we identified and characterized several antagonists of the odorant receptor coreceptor of the African malaria vector Anopheles gambiae (AgamORco) in a small collection of nat ural volatile organic compounds. Because some of the identi fied antagonists were previously shown to strongly repel Anopheles and Culex mosquitoes, we examined the bio activities of the identified antagonists against Aedes, the third major genus of the Culicidae family. The tested antagonists inhibited the function of Ae. aegypti ORco ex vivo and repelled adult Asian tiger mosquitoes (Ae. albopictus). Binary mixtures of specific antagonists elicited higher repellency than single antagonists, and binding competition assays suggested that this enhanced repellence is due to antagonist interaction with distinct ORco sites. Our results also suggest that the enhanced mosquito repellency by antagonist mixtures is due to additive rather than synergistic effects of the specific antagonist com binations on ORco function. Taken together, these findings provide novel insights concerning the molecular aspects of odorant receptor function. Moreover, our results demonstrate that a simple screening assay may be used for the identification of allosteric modifiers of olfactory-driven behaviors capable of providing enhanced personal protection against multiple mosquito-borne infectious diseases.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number100172
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding and additional information—This research was funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action CA18133 “European Research Network on Signal Transduction (ERNEST).” The research was also supported in part by OPENSCREEN-GR (“An Open-Access Research Infrastructure of Chemical Biology and Target-Based Screening Technologies for Human and Animal Health, Agriculture and the Environment” (MIS 5002691), a project implemented under the Action “Reinforcement of the Research and Innovation Infrastructure,” funded by the Operational Program “Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation” (NSRF 2014-2020) and cofinanced by Greece and the European Union (European Regional Development Fund); the project LIFE CONOPS (LIFE12 ENV/GR/000466) of the program LIFE + Environment Policy and Governance funded by the European Commission; and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1990/16).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 THE AUTHORS. Published by Elsevier Inc on behalf of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


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