Honey bee thermal/chemical sensor, AmHsTRPA, reveals neofunctionalization and loss of transient receptor potential channel genes

Keigo Kohno, Takaaki Sokabe, Makoto Tominaga, Tatsuhiko Kadowaki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Insects are relatively small heterothermic animals, thus they are highly susceptible to changes in ambient temperature. However, a group of honey bees is able to maintain the brood nest temperature between 32°C and 36°C by either cooling or heating the nest. Nevertheless, how honey bees sense the ambient temperature is not known. We identified a honey bee Hymenoptera-specific transient receptor potential A (HsTRPA) channel (AmHsTRPA), which is activated by heat with an apparent threshold temperature of 34°C and insect antifeedants such as camphor in vitro. AmHsTRPA is expressed in the antennal flagellum, and ablation of the antennal flagella and injection of AmHsTRPA inhibitors impair warmth avoidance of honey bees. Gustatory responses of honey bees to sucrose are suppressed by noxious heat and insect antifeedants, but are relieved in the presence of AmHsTRPA inhibitors. These results suggest that AmHsTRPA may function as a thermal/chemical sensor in vivo. As shown previously, Hymenoptera has lost the ancient chemical sensor TRPA1; however, AmHsTRPA is able to complement the function of Drosophila melanogaster TRPA1. These results demonstrate that HsTRPA, originally arisen by the duplication of Water witch, has acquired thermal- and chemical-responsive properties, which has resulted in the loss of ancient TRPA1. Thus, this is an example of neofunctionalization of the duplicated ion channel gene followed by the loss of the functionally equivalent ancient gene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12219-12229
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2010
Externally publishedYes

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