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Open Access Research article

Large-scale RNAi screen of G protein-coupled receptors involved in larval growth, molting and metamorphosis in the red flour beetle

Hua Bai12, Fang Zhu1, Kapil Shah1 and Subba Reddy Palli1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Entomology, S-225 Agriculture Science Bldg. N., University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546, USA

2 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912-G, USA

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:388  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-388

Published: 1 August 2011

Abstract

Background

The G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) belong to the largest superfamily of integral cell membrane proteins and play crucial roles in physiological processes including behavior, development and reproduction. Because of their broad and diverse roles in cellular signaling, GPCRs are the therapeutic targets for many prescription drugs. However, there is no commercial pesticide targeting insect GPCRs. In this study, we employed functional genomics methods and used the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, as a model system to study the physiological roles of GPCRs during the larval growth, molting and metamorphosis.

Results

A total of 111 non-sensory GPCRs were identified in the T. castaneum genome. Thirty-nine of them were not reported previously. Large-scale RNA interference (RNAi) screen was used to study the function of all these GPCRs during immature stages. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-mediated knockdown in the expression of genes coding for eight GPCRs caused severe developmental arrest and ecdysis failure (with more than 90% mortality after dsRNA injection). These GPCRs include dopamine-2 like receptor (TC007490/D2R) and latrophilin receptor (TC001872/Cirl). The majority of larvae injected with TC007490/D2R dsRNA died during larval stage prior to entering pupal stage, suggesting that this GPCR is essential for larval growth and development.

Conclusions

The results from our study revealed the physiological roles of some GPCRs in T. castaneum. These findings could help in development of novel pesticides targeting these GPCRs.