Immunohistochemical characterization of the nervous system of Culex pipiens (Diptera, Culicidae)
Arthropod-borne diseases represent one of the greatest infection-related threats as a result of climate change and globalization. Repeatedly, arbovirus-infected mosquitoes show behavioral changes whose underlying mechanisms are still largely unknown, but might help to develop control strategies. However, in contrast to well-characterized insects such as fruit flies, little is known about neuroanatomy and neurotransmission in mosquitoes. To overcome this limitation, the study focuses on the immunohistochemical characterization of the nervous system of Culex pipiens biotype molestus in comparison to Drosophila melanogaster using 13 antibodies labeling nervous tissue, neurotransmitters or neurotransmitter-related enzymes. Antibodies directed against γ-aminobutyric acid, serotonin, tyrosine-hydroxylase and glutamine synthetase were suitable for investigations in Culex pipiens and Drosophila melanogaster, albeit species-specific spatial differences were observed. Likewise, similar staining results were achieved for neuronal glycoproteins, axons, dendrites and synaptic zones in both species. Interestingly, anti-phosphosynapsin and anti-gephyrin appear to represent novel markers for synapses and glial cells, respectively. In contrast, antibodies directed against acetylcholine, choline acetyltransferase, elav and repo failed to produce a signal in Culex pipiens comparable to that in Drosophila melanogaster. In summary, present results enable a detailed investigation of the nervous system of mosquitoes, facilitating further studies of behavioral mechanisms associated with arboviruses in the course of vector research.