Reconstruction of ancestral FGLamide-type insect allatostatins: a novel approach to the study of allatostatin function and evolution.
By using degenerate primers based on known mammalian somatostatin receptors and the recently identified Drosophila allatostatin receptors (AlstR), we have cloned a novel receptor for the neuropeptide, allatostatin, from the cockroach Periplaneta americana. The receptor exhibits about 60% amino acid identity in the transmembrane regions when compared to the two known AlstRs from Drosophila melanogaster. In addition, two cDNA fragments were obtained from the stick insect Carausius morosus, one of which is similar to Drosophila AlstR, whereas the other is more similar to mammalian somatostatin receptors. Functional expression in Xenopus oocytes shows that the Periplaneta-AlstR exhibits high affinity to endogenous cockroach allatostatin peptides. Studies with synthetic peptides demonstrate that agonistic activity is mediated by the conserved C-terminal pentapeptide YXFGL-amide; in this sequence, amidation of the C-terminus is obligatory to maintain affinity. Thus, our studies provide a molecular basis for understanding the widespread biological activities of the allatostatin peptides.