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© 2016 The Authors The arthropod salivary gland is of critical importance for horizontal transmission of pathogens, yet a detailed understanding of the ion conductance pathways responsible for saliva production and excretion is lacking. A superfamily of potassium ion channels, known as inward rectifying potassium (Kir) channels, is overexpressed in the Drosophila salivary gland by 32-fold when compared to the whole body mRNA transcripts. Therefore, we aimed to test the hypothesis that pharmacological and genetic depletion of salivary gland specific Kir channels alters the efficiency of the gland and reduced feeding capabilities using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism that could predict similar effects in arthropod disease vectors. Exposure to VU041, a selective Kir channel blocker, reduced the volume of sucrose consumption by up to 3.2-fold and was found to be concentration-dependent with an EC50 of 68 μM. Importantly, the inactive analog, VU937, was shown to not influence feeding, suggesting the reduction in feeding observed with VU041 is due to Kir channel inhibition. Next, we performed a salivary gland specific knockdown of Kir1 to assess the role of these channels specifically in the salivary gland. The genetically depleted fruit flies had a reduction in total volume ingested and an increase in the time spent feeding, both suggestive of a reduction in salivary gland function. Furthermore, a compensatory mechanism appears to be present at day 1 of RNAi-treated fruit flies, and is likely to be the Na+-K+-2Cl− cotransporter and/or Na+-K+-ATPase pumps that serve to supplement the inward flow of K+ ions, which highlights the functional redundancy in control of ion flux in the salivary glands. These findings suggest that Kir channels likely provide, at least in part, a principal potassium conductance pathway in the Drosophila salivary gland that is required for sucrose feeding.

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Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology

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