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- The Allatoregulatory Neuropeptides and their Genes in the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) (2004)
- The genes encoding the S. frugiperda allatotropin (Spofr-AT), allatostatin (Spofr-AST), allatostatin type-A (Spofr-AST A) peptide family and allatotropin 2 (Spofr-AT 2) peptides were isolated from S. frugiperda brain cDNA. The Spofr-AT gene is expressed in three mRNA isoforms with 134, 171, and 200 amino acids, respectively, differing from each other by alternative splicing. The Spofr-AST cDNA encodes 125 amino acid residues including one copy of the Manse-AST mature peptide (type-C allatostatin). The deduced precursor sequence of Spofr-AST A gene contains 231 amino acids and allowed unambiguous identification of nine (or ten) peptides of YFXFGL-a peptide family, which are tandemly arranged in three blocks. A cDNA that encodes 53 amino acids was cloned from S. frugiperda brain cDNA, including one copy of a non-amidated decapeptide (Arg-Val-Arg-Gly-Asn-Pro-Ile-Ser-Cys-Phe-OH). This peptide strongly stimulates the synthesis and release of juvenile hormone (JH) in vitro by the corpora allata (CA) of S. frugiperda adult females and was code-named Spofr-AT 2. The primary structure of Spofr-AT 2 is identical at its C-terminus (-NPISCF) with the M. sexta type-C allatostatin (Manse-AST). One-step RT-PCR for semi-quantification of the gene expression, it is demonstrated that both genes (Spofr-AT and Spofr-AST) are expressed in brain, digestive tract, and reproductive organs of larvae, pupae, and adults of S. frugiperda in a time-, tissue-, and sex specific manner. The tissue-specific localization of the prohormone expression, as demonstrated by whole-mount in situ hybridization, confirms the overall tissue distribution of the prohormones as shown by RT-PCR and supports the pleiotropic functions of the peptides. Spofr-AST type-A gene is expressed in the brain, midgut, and reproductive organs of S. frugiperda larvae and adults in a time- and tissue-specific manner. Data confirm the nature of the allatostatin type-A peptides as brain/gut myoregulatory hormones. Northern blotting and RT-PCR analyses revealed that the Spofr-AT 2 gene is expressed as one transcript in the brain, midgut, and ovary in a tissue- and developmental-specific manner. Treating the CA with the synthetic peptide caused an up to tenfold increase in the release of JH. The stimulation of JH release was dose-dependent with an apparent EC50 of ca. 10-7 M. CA that were activated with Spofr-AT 2 could be inhibited by the addition of synthetic Manse-AST. In conclusion, the presented date strengthen the hypothesis that “allatoregulating” neuropeptides are diverse in structure, widely distributed and exhibit multiple functions. The functions may be tissue-specific as well as specific to particular developmental stages of insects. Knowledge of the various peptide precursor sequences has opened the way for synthesis of these peptides for detailed physiological and functional studies. Further quantitative experiments formulated in context of the life history of the animals will certainly yield a more detailed understanding of the mode of action of these peptides in S. frugiperda. Other major challenges in the future will be to clone the receptors for these peptides and to study the receptor distribution in the fall armyworm.