Neuropeptides related to vertebrate tachykinins have been identified in Drosophila and are referred to as drosotachykinins, or DTKs. Two Drosophila G protein-coupled receptors, designated NKD (neurokinin receptor from Drosophila; CG6515) and DTKR (Drosophila tachykinin receptor; CG7887), display sequence similarities to mammalian tachykinin receptors. Whereas DTKR was shown to be activated by DTKs (Birse RT, Johnson EC, Taghert PH, Nassel DR. Widely distributed Drosophila G-protein-coupled receptor (CG7887) is activated by endogenous tachykinin-related peptides. J Neurobiol 2006;66:33-46; Poels J, Verlinden H, Fichna J, Van Loy T, Franssens V, Studzian K, et al. Functional comparison of two evolutionary conserved insect neurokinin-like receptors. Peptides 2007;28:103-8] and was localized by immunocytochemistry in Drosophila central nervous system (CNS), agonist-dependent activation and distribution of NKD have not yet been investigated in depth. In the present study, we have challenged NKD-expressing mammalian and insect cells with a library of Drosophila neuropeptides and discovered DTK-6 as a specific agonist that can induce a calcium response in these cells. in addition, we have produced antisera to sequences from NKD protein to analyze receptor distribution. We found that NKD is less abundantly distributed in the central nervous system than DTKR, and only NKD was found in the intestine. In fact, the two receptors are distributed in mutually exclusive patterns in the CNS. The combined distribution of the receptors in brain neuropils corresponds well with the distribution of DTKs. Most interestingly, NKD appears to be activated only by DTK-6, known to possess an Ala-substitution in an otherwise conserved C-terminal core motif. our findings suggest that NKD and DTKR provide substrates for two functionally and spatially separated peptide signaling systems. (c) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.