A corazonin G protein-coupled receptor gene in the tick Ixodes scapularis yields two splice variants, each coding for a specific corazonin receptor

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We have identified a corazonin G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) gene in the tick Ixodes scapularis, which likely plays a central role in the physiology and behavior of this ectoparasite. This receptor gene is unusually large (1.133 Mb) and yields two corazonin (CRZ) receptor splice variants, where nearly half of the coding regions are exchanged: CRZ-Ra (containing exon 2, exon 3, and exon 4 of the gene) and CRZ-Rb (containing exon 1, exon 3, and exon 4 of the gene). CRZ-Ra codes for a GPCR with a canonical DRF sequence at the border of the third transmembrane helix and the second intracellular loop. The positively-charged R residue from the DRF sequence is important for coupling of G proteins after activation of a GPCR. CRZ-Rb, in contrast, codes for a GPCR with an unusual DQL sequence at this position, still retaining a negatively-charged D residue, but lacking a positively-charged R residue, suggesting different G protein coupling. Another difference between the two splice variants is that exon 2 from CRZ-Ra codes for an N-terminal signal sequence. Normally, GPCRs do not have N-terminal signal sequences, although a few mammalian GPCRs have. In the tick CRZ-Ra, the signal sequence probably assists with inserting the receptor correctly into the RER membrane. We stably transfected Chinese Hamster Ovary cells with each of the two splice variants and carried out bioluminescence bioassays that also included the use of the human promiscuous G protein G16. CRZ-Ra turned out to be selective for I. scapularis corazonin (EC50 = 10−8 M) and could not be activated by related neuropeptides like adipokinetic hormone (AKH) and AKH/corazonin-related peptide (ACP). Similarly, also CRZ-Rb could only be activated by corazonin, although about 4-fold higher concentrations were needed to activate it (EC50 = 4 x 10−8 M). The genomic organization of the tick corazonin GPCR gene is similar to that of the insect AKH and ACP receptor genes. This similar genomic organization can also be found in the human gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor gene, confirming previous conclusions that the corazonin, AKH, and ACP receptor genes are the true arthropod orthologues of the human GnRH receptor gene.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Pages (from-to)162-169
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors

    Research areas

  • ACP, AKH, Corazonin, GnRH, GPCR, Lyme disease

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