Development of a novel screening system for allatostatin receptor agonists in search of new candidate insect growth regulators
By using degenerate oligonucleotide primers deduced from the conserved regions of the mammalian somatostatin receptors, a novel G-protein-coupled receptor from Drosophila melanogaster has been isolated exhibiting structural similarities to mammalian somatostatin/galanin/opioid receptors. To identify the bioactive ligand, a 'reverse physiology' strategy was used whereby orphan Drosophila receptor-expressing frog oocytes were screened against potential ligands. Agonistic activity was electrophysiologically recorded as inward potassium currents mediated through co-expressed G-protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium channels (GIRK). Using this approach a novel peptide was purified from Drosophila head extracts. Mass spectrometry revealed an octapeptide of 925 Da with a sequence Ser-Arg-Pro-Tyr-Ser-Phe-Gly-Leu-NH(2) reminiscent of insect allatostatin peptides known to control diverse functions such as juvenile hormone synthesis during metamorphosis or visceral muscle contractions. Picomolar concentrations of the synthesized octapeptide activated the cognate receptor response mediated through GIRK1, indicating that we have isolated the 394-amino-acid Drosophila allatostatin receptor which is coupled to the Gi/Go class of G proteins.