HsTRPA of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, functions as a nocisensor and uncovers the evolutionary plasticity of HsTRPA channels

Xinyue Wang, Tianbang Li, Makiko Kashio, Yijuan Xu, Makoto Tominaga, Tatsuhiko Kadowaki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Solenopsis invicta, the red imported fire ant, represents one of the most devastating invasive species. To understand their sensory physiology, we identified and characterized their Hymenoptera-specific (Hs) TRPA channel, SiHsTRPA. Consistent with the sensory functions of SiHsTRPA, it is activated by heat, an electrophile, and an insect repellent. Nevertheless, SiHsTRPA does not respond to most of the honey bee ortholog (AmHsTRPA)-activating compounds. The jewel wasp ortholog (NvHsTRPA) is activated by these compounds even though it outgroups both AmHsTRPA and SiHsTRPA. Characterization of AmHsTRPA/SiHsTRPA chimeric channels revealed that the amino acids in the N terminus, as well as ankyrin repeat 2 (AR2) of AmHsTRPA, are essential for the response to camphor. Furthermore, amino acids in ARs 3 and 5–7 were specifically required for the response to diallyl disulfide. Thus, amino acid substitutions in the corresponding domains of SiHsTRPA during evolution would be responsible for the loss of chemical sensitivity. SiHsTRPA-activating compounds repel red imported fire ants, suggesting that SiHsTRPA functions as a sensor for noxious compounds. SiHsTRPA represents an example of the species-specific modulation of orthologous TRPA channel properties by amino acid substitutions in multiple domains, and SiHsTRPA-activating compounds could be used to develop a method for controlling red imported fire ants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0327-17.2018
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Evolutionary plasticity
  • Fire ant
  • Honey bee
  • HsTRPA channel
  • Sensor for noxious stimuli

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