Modulatory transmitters are major contributors to nervous system plasticity and behavioral flexibility, they determine motivational states and are involved in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Neuromodulators act through a variety of distinct receptors and due to the diversity in receptor subtypes and distribution, a single neuromodulator can exert many different actions. A prerequisite to understand the ways modulators work is thus to identify which receptors are expressed in an animal.
I studied which Dopamine receptors are present in the Procambarus virginalis, a highly invasive species of all female genetic clones with high quality genome and transcriptomes. Their broad behavioral repertoire makes them ideal for studying the actions of neuromodulator receptors. We focused on Dopamine receptors as they play a role in Parkinson’s disease and the reward system of vertebrates and invertebrates.
Using bioinformatics on the genome and transcriptome, we identified which dopamine receptors exist in marbled crayfish. Two receptors previously identified in lobsters, D1Alpha and D1beta, were considered. Like crayfish, lobsters are decapod crustaceans, and the evolutionary closest species with identified dopamine receptors. We identified homologs of both receptor genes in the genome and the transcriptome. However, a conserved domains search revealed no direct functional Dopamine receptor domain for these putative D1alpha and D1beta receptors. PCR with D1alpha primers on ventral nerve cord mRNA revealed that this putative receptor is expressed in the marbled crayfish nervous system. We are currently testing the expression of D1beta in in the ventral nerve cord.
Stein, Wolfgang and Talasu, Saisupritha, "Identifying Dopamine Receptor Genes and Transcription Marbled Crayfish" (2019). Faculty Publications – Biological Sciences. 30.