(1/272) Cryptocyanin, a crustacean molting protein: evolutionary link with arthropod hemocyanins and insect hexamerins.

Cryptocyanin, a copper-free hexameric protein in crab (Cancer magister) hemolymph, has been characterized and the amino acid sequence has been deduced from its cDNA. It is markedly similar in sequence, size, and structure to hemocyanin, the copper-containing oxygen-transport protein found in many arthropods. Cryptocyanin does not bind oxygen, however, and lacks three of the six highly conserved copper-binding histidine residues of hemocyanin. Cryptocyanin has no phenoloxidase activity, although a phenoloxidase is present in the hemolymph. The concentration of cryptocyanin in the hemolymph is closely coordinated with the molt cycle and reaches levels higher than hemocyanin during premolt. Cryptocyanin resembles insect hexamerins in the lack of copper, molt cycle patterns of biosynthesis, and potential contributions to the new exoskeleton. Phylogenetic analysis of sequence similarities between cryptocyanin and other members of the hemocyanin gene family shows that cryptocyanin is closely associated with crustacean hemocyanins and suggests that cryptocyanin arose as a result of a hemocyanin gene duplication. The presence of both hemocyanin and cryptocyanin in one animal provides an example of how insect hexamerins might have evolved from hemocyanin. Our results suggest that multiple members of the hemocyanin gene family-hemocyanin, cryptocyanin, phenoloxidase, and hexamerins-may participate in two vital functions of molting animals, oxygen binding and molting. Cryptocyanin may provide important molecular data to further investigate evolutionary relationships among all molting animals.  (+info)

(2/272) Steroid induction of a peptide hormone gene leads to orchestration of a defined behavioral sequence.

At the end of each molt, insects shed the old cuticle by performing preecdysis and ecdysis behaviors. Regulation of these centrally patterned movements involves peptide signaling between endocrine Inka cells and the CNS. In Inka cells, we have identified the cDNA and gene encoding preecdysis-triggering hormone (PETH) and ecdysis-triggering hormone (ETH), which activate these behaviors. Prior to behavioral onset, rising ecdysteroid levels induce expression of the ecdysone receptor (EcR) and ETH gene in Inka cells and evoke CNS sensitivity to PETH and ETH. Subsequent ecdysteroid decline is required for peptide release, which initiates three motor patterns in specific order: PETH triggers preecdysis I, while ETH activates preecdysis II and ecdysis. The Inka cell provides a model for linking steroid regulation of peptide hormone expression and release with activation of a defined behavioral sequence.  (+info)

(3/272) Voltage-dependent ionic currents in the ventromedial eclosion hormone neurons of Manduca sexta.

The ventromedial cells (VM cells) of the moth Manduca sexta belong to a peptide hormone signaling hierarchy that directs an episodic and stereotyped behavior pattern, ecdysis. The VM cells respond to declining ecdysteroid titers at the end of the final larval molt with a transcription-dependent decrease in spike threshold and the abrupt release of the previously stockpiled neuropeptide, eclosion hormone (EH). This report describes whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of acutely isolated VM cell somata made to identify membrane currents that may underlie the increase in VM cell excitability during EH release and that may contribute to abrupt peptide release. There were at least three voltage- and time-dependent conductances in the VM cells. The inward current was carried exclusively by a voltage-dependent inward Ca(2+) current (I(Ca)), and the outward currents were a combination of a Ca(2+)-dependent outward K(+) current (I(K(Ca))) and a transient, voltage-dependent outward K(+) current, the A current (I(A)). In current-clamp recordings, the currents present in the acutely isolated somata were sufficient to generate membrane properties similar to those observed in the VM cells in situ. This study represents the first step toward characterization of the mechanisms underlying the abrupt release of EH stores from the VM cells preceding ecdysis.  (+info)

(4/272) The hormonal coordination of behavior and physiology at adult ecdysis in Drosophila melanogaster.

In insects, ecdysis is thought to be controlled by the interaction between peptide hormones; in particular between ecdysis-triggering hormone (ETH) from the periphery and eclosion hormone (EH) and crustacean cardioactive peptide (CCAP) from the central nervous system. We examined the behavioral and physiological functions of the first two of these peptides in Drosophila melanogaster using wild-type flies and knockout flies that lacked EH neurons. We used ETH from Manduca sexta (MasETH) to induce premature ecdysis and compared the responses of the two types of flies. The final release of EH normally occurs approximately 40 min before ecdysis. It is correlated with cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) production in selected neurons and tracheae, by an elevation in the heart rate and by the filling of the new tracheae with air. Injection of developing flies with MasETH causes all these events to occur prematurely. In EH cell knockouts, none of these changes occurs in response to MasETH, and these flies show a permanent failure in tracheal filling. This failure can be overcome in the knockouts by injecting them with membrane-permeant analogs of cGMP, the second messenger for EH. The basis for the 40 min delay between EH release and the onset of ecdysis was examined by decapitating flies at various times relative to EH release. In flies that had already released EH, decapitation was always followed within 1 min by the start of ecdysis. Immediate ecdysis was never observed when the EH cell knockout flies were decapitated. We propose that EH activates both ventral central nervous system elements necessary for ecdysis (possibly the CCAP cells) and descending inhibitory neurons from the head. This descending inhibition establishes a delay in the onset of ecdysis that allows the completion of EH-activated physiological processes such as tracheal filling. A waning in the inhibition eventually allows ecdysis to begin 30-40 min later.  (+info)

(5/272) Similarity of the C. elegans developmental timing protein LIN-42 to circadian rhythm proteins.

The Caenorhabditis elegans heterochronic genes control the relative timing and sequence of many events during postembryonic development, including the terminal differentiation of the lateral hypodermis, which occurs during the final (fourth) molt. Inactivation of the heterochronic gene lin-42 causes hypodermal terminal differentiation to occur precociously, during the third molt. LIN-42 most closely resembles the Period family of proteins from Drosophila and other organisms, proteins that function in another type of biological timing mechanism: the timing of circadian rhythms. Per mRNA levels oscillate with an approximately 24-hour periodicity. lin-42 mRNA levels also oscillate, but with a faster rhythm; the oscillation occurs relative to the approximately 6-hour molting cycles of postembryonic development.  (+info)

(6/272) A remarkable, precisely timed release of hyperglycemic hormone from endocrine cells in the gut is associated with ecdysis in the crab Carcinus maenas.

Molting or ecdysis is the most fundamentally important process in arthropod life history, because shedding of the exoskeleton is an absolute prerequisite for growth and metamorphosis. Although the hormonal mechanisms driving ecdysis in insects have been studied extensively, nothing is known about these processes in crustaceans. During late premolt and during ecdysis in the crab Carcinus maenas, we observed a precise and reproducible surge in hemolymph hyperglycemic hormone (CHH) levels, which was over 100-fold greater than levels seen in intermolt animals. The source of this hormone surge was not from the eyestalk neurosecretory tissues but from previously undescribed endocrine cells (paraneurons), in defined areas of the foregut and hindgut. During premolt (the only time when CHH is expressed by these tissues), the gut is the largest endocrine tissue in the crab. The CHH surge, which is a result of an unusual, almost complete discharge of the contents of the gut endocrine cell, regulates water and ion uptake during molting, thus allowing the swelling necessary for successful ecdysis and the subsequent increase in size during postmolt. This study defines an endocrine brain/gut axis in the arthropods. We propose that the ionoregulatory process controlled by CHH may be common to arthropods, in that, for insects, a similar mechanism seems to be involved in antidiuresis. It also seems likely that a cascade of very precisely coordinated release of (neuro) hormones controls ecdysis.  (+info)

(7/272) Molecular cloning and biological activity of ecdysis-triggering hormones in Drosophila melanogaster.

Ecdysis-triggering hormones (ETH) initiate a defined behavioral sequence leading to shedding of the insect cuticle. We have identified eth, a gene encoding peptides with ETH-like structure and biological activity in Drosophila melanogaster. The open reading frame contains three putative peptides based on canonical endopeptidase cleavage and amidation sites. Two of the predicted peptides (DrmETH1 and DrmETH2) prepared by chemical synthesis induce premature eclosion upon injection into pharate adults. The promoter region of the gene contains a direct repeat ecdysteroid response element. Identification of eth in Drosophila provides opportunities for genetic manipulation of endocrine and behavioral events underlying a stereotypic behavior.  (+info)

(8/272) Ecdysis of decapod crustaceans is associated with a dramatic release of crustacean cardioactive peptide into the haemolymph.

On the basis of detailed analyses of morphological characteristics and behavioural events associated with ecdysis in a crab (Carcinus maenas) and a crayfish (Orconectes limosus), a comprehensive substaging system has been introduced for the ecdysis stage of the moult cycle of these decapod crustaceans. In a remarkably similar stereotyped ecdysis sequence in both species, a passive phase of water uptake starting with bulging and rupture of thoracoabdominal exoskeletal junctions is followed by an active phase showing distinct behavioural changes involved in the shedding of the head appendages, abdomen and pereiopods. Together with an enzyme immunoassay for crustacean cardioactive peptide (CCAP), the substaging has been used to demonstrate a large, rapid and reproducible peak in haemolymph CCAP levels (increases of approximately 30-fold in the crab and more than 100-fold in the crayfish compared with intermoult titres) during the later stages of active ecdysis. We suggest that the release of CCAP (accumulated in late premoult) from the crab pericardial organs or the crayfish ventral nerve cord accounts for many of the changes in behaviour and physiology seen during ecdysis and that this neurohormone is likely to be of critical importance in crustaceans and other arthropods.  (+info)