GPCR annotation, G proteins, and transcriptomics of fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) queen and worker brain: An improved view of signaling in an invasive superorganism.
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Knowledge of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and their signaling modalities is crucial to advancing insect endocrinology, specifically in highly successful invasive social insects, such as the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren. In the first published draft genome of S. invicta, emphasis was placed on the annotation of olfactory receptors, and only the number of predicted GPCR genes was reported. Without an organized and curated resource for GPCRs, it will be difficult to test hypotheses on the endocrine role of neuropeptide hormones, or the function of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. Therefore, we mined the S. invicta genome for GPCRs and found 324 predicted transcripts encoded by 125 predicted loci and improved the annotation of 55 of these loci. Among them are sixteen GPCRs that are currently annotated as "uncharacterized proteins". Further, the phylogenetic analysis of class A neuropeptide receptors presented here and the comparative listing of GPCRs in the hymenopterans S. invicta, Apis mellifera (both eusocial), Nasonia vitripennis (solitary), and the solitary model dipteran Drosophila melanogaster will facilitate comparative endocrinological studies related to social insect evolution and diversity. We compiled the 24 G protein transcripts predicted (15 , 7 , and 2 ) from 12 G protein genes (5 , 5 , and 2 ). Reproductive division of labor is extreme in this ant species, therefore, we compared GPCR and G protein gene expression among worker, mated queen and alate virgin queen ant brain transcriptomes. Transcripts for ten GPCRs and two G proteins were differentially expressed between queen and worker brains. The differentially expressed GPCRs are candidate receptors to explore hypotheses on division of labor in this species.