Cloning, heterologous expression and developmental regulation of a Drosophila receptor for tachykinin-like peptides

X. J. Li, W. Wolfgang, Y. N. Wu, R. A. North, M. Forte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


We identified clones encoding a Drosophila receptor for tachykinin-like peptides by low stringency screening of an embryonic cDNA library with probes from the bovine substance K receptor. The cDNAs encode a seven transmembrane domain protein (DTKR) of 519 amino acids with 40-48% amino acid identity to mammalian tachykinin receptors within transmembrane regions. Xenopus oocytes injected with DTKR cRNAs showed selective responses to vertebrate substance P, its agonists and not to other vertebrate tachykinin peptides. These responses were eliminated by treatment of oocytes with pertussis toxin. In the adult fly, Northern and PCR analysis demonstrated preferential expression of DTKR in the head; in situ hybridization indicated that DTKR is accumulated in the cell bodies of neurons in the adult CNS. The levels of DTKR transcript are regulated during development. Northern and PCR amplification analysis showed that while DTKR transcripts are present at all stages, high levels of expression occur in later stages of embryogenesis (starting at 10-14 h), coinciding with the beginning of major periods of neural development. Whole mount embryo in situ hybridization demonstrated that DTKR is expressed at these later stages of embryogenesis (11 - 15 h) in the brain and in a specific subset of neurons in each neuromere of the developing ventral ganglion. The gene encoding DTKR was mapped by in situ hybridization to a single location at 99D on the right arm of chromosome 3. These observations demonstrate that the tachykinin family of peptide transmitters and their receptors represent an evolutionarily ancient form of cellular communication within the nervous system. In addition, the abundance of transcripts coding for DTKR and their precise developmental regulation suggest that tachykinins and their receptors may be critical for normal development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3221-3229
Number of pages9
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Cloning
  • Drosophila
  • Expression
  • Receptor
  • Tachykinins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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