Identification of Life-Stage and Tissue-Specific Splice Variants of an Inward Rectifying Potassium (Kir) Channel in the Yellow Fever Mosquito Aedes aegypti
Inward-rectifier potassium (Kir) channels play key roles in nerve, muscle, and epithelial cells in mammals, but their physiological roles in insects remain to be determined. The yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) possesses five different genes encoding Kir channel subunits: Kir1, Kir2A, Kir2B, Kir2B', and Kir3. We have recently cloned and characterized the Kir1, Kir2B, and Kir3 cDNAs in the renal (Malpighian) tubules of adult female Ae. aegypti. Here we characterize the expression of the Kir2A gene in Ae. aegypti, which was not abundantly expressed in Malpighian tubules. We find that the 1) Kir2A gene is expressed primarily in the midgut and hindgut of adult female mosquitoes, and 2) Kir2A mRNAs are alternatively spliced into three distinct variants (Kir2A-a, -b, and -c). The deduced Kir2A proteins from these splice forms share a completely conserved transmembrane domain (a pore-forming domain flanked by two transmembrane-spanning segments), but possess novel NH2-terminal and/or COOH-terminal domains. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR analyses indicate that the splice variants exhibit both developmental- and tissue-specific expression. Lastly, we provide insights into the conservation of alternative splicing among the Kir2A genes of dipterans, which may add molecular diversity that compensates for the relatively limited number of Kir channel genes in insects compared to mammals.
Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology