Parasitoid wasp sting: A cocktail of GABA, taurine, and β-alanine opens chloride channels for central synaptic block and transient paralysis of a cockroach host

Eugene L. Moore, Gal Haspel, Frederic Libersat, Michael E. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

The wasp Ampulex compressa injects venom directly into the prothoracic ganglion of its cockroach host to induce a transient paralysis of the front legs. To identify the biochemical basis for this paralysis, we separated venom components according to molecular size and tested fractions for inhibition of synaptic transmission at the cockroach cercal-giant synapse. Only fractions in the low molecular weight range (<2 kDa) caused synaptic block. Dabsylation of venom components and analysis by HPLC and MALDI-TOF-MS revealed high levels of GABA (25 mM), and its receptor agonists β-alanine (18 mM), and taurine (9 mM) in the active fractions. Each component produces transient block of synaptic transmission at the cercal-giant synapse and block of efferent motor output from the pro-thoracic ganglion, which mimics effects produced by injection of whole venom. Whole venom evokes picrotoxin-sensitive chloride currents in cockroach central neurons, consistent with a GABAergic action. Together these data demonstrate that Ampulex utilizes GABAergic chloride channel activation as a strategy for central synaptic block to induce transient and focal leg paralysis in its host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-820
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Volume66
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Keywords

  • Beta-alanine
  • Cockroach
  • GABA
  • Parasitoid
  • Taurine
  • Venom
  • Wasp

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