The Journal of comparative neurology

Neuronal distribution of tyramine and the tyramine receptor AmTAR1 in the honeybee brain.

PMID 28445613


Tyramine is an important neurotransmitter, neuromodulator, and neurohormone in insects. In honeybees, it is assumed to have functions in modulating sensory responsiveness and controlling motor behavior. Tyramine can bind to two characterized receptors in honeybees, both of which are coupled to intracellular cAMP pathways. How tyramine acts on neuronal, cellular and circuit levels is unclear. We investigated the spatial brain expression of the tyramine receptor AmTAR1 using a specific antibody. This antibody detects a membrane protein of the expected molecular weight in western blot analysis. In honeybee brains, it labels different structures which process sensory information. Labeling along the antennal nerve, in projections of the dorsal lobe and in the gnathal ganglion suggest that tyramine receptors are involved in modulating gustatory and tactile perception. Furthermore, the ellipsoid body of the central complex and giant synapses in the lateral complex show AmTAR1-like immunoreactivity (AmTAR1-IR), suggesting a role of this receptor in modulating sky-compass information and/or higher sensor-motor control. Additionally, intense signals derive from the mushroom bodies, higher-order integration centers for olfactory, visual, gustatory and tactile information. To investigate whether AmTAR1-expressing brain structures are in vicinity to tyramine releasing sites, a specific tyramine antibody was applied. Tyramine-like labeling was observed in AmTAR1-IR positive structures, although it was sometimes weak and we did not always find a direct match of ligand and receptor. Moreover, tyramine-like immunoreactivity was also found in brain regions without AmTAR1-IR (optic lobes, antennal lobes), indicating that other tyramine-specific receptors may be expressed there.