The developmental basis for allometry in insects.
Within all species of animals, the size of each organ bears a specific relationship to overall body size. These patterns of organ size relative to total body size are called static allometry and have enchanted biologists for centuries, yet the mechanisms generating these patterns have attracted little experimental study. We review recent and older work on holometabolous insect development that sheds light on these mechanisms. In insects, static allometry can be divided into at least two processes: (1) the autonomous specification of organ identity, perhaps including the approximate size of the organ, and (2) the determination of the final size of organs based on total body size. We present three models to explain the second process: (1) all organs autonomously absorb nutrients and grow at organ-specific rates, (2) a centralized system measures a close correlate of total body size and distributes this information to all organs, and (3) autonomous organ growth is combined with feedback between growing organs to modulate final sizes. We provide evidence supporting models 2 and 3 and also suggest that hormones are the messengers of size information. Advances in our understanding of the mechanisms of allometry will come through the integrated study of whole tissues using techniques from development, genetics, endocrinology and population biology. (+info)
Novel regulation of the homeotic gene Scr associated with a crustacean leg-to-maxilliped appendage transformation.
Homeotic genes are known to be involved in patterning morphological structures along the antero-posterior axis of insects and vertebrates. Because of their important roles in development, changes in the function and expression patterns of homeotic genes may have played a major role in the evolution of different body plans. For example, it has been proposed that during the evolution of several crustacean lineages, changes in the expression patterns of the homeotic genes Ultrabithorax and abdominal-A have played a role in transformation of the anterior thoracic appendages into mouthparts termed maxillipeds. This homeotic-like transformation is recapitulated at the late stages of the direct embryonic development of the crustacean Porcellio scaber (Oniscidea, Isopoda). Interestingly, this morphological change is associated with apparent novelties both in the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of the Porcellio scaber ortholog of the Drosophila homeotic gene, Sex combs reduced (Scr). Specifically, we find that Scr mRNA is present in the second maxillary segment and the first pair of thoracic legs (T1) in early embryos, whereas protein accumulates only in the second maxillae. In later stages, however, high levels of SCR appear in the T1 legs, which correlates temporally with the transformation of these appendages into maxillipeds. Our observations provide further insight into the process of the homeotic leg-to-maxilliped transformation in the evolution of crustaceans and suggest a novel regulatory mechanism for this process in this group of arthropods. (+info)
Why are there so few resistance-associated mutations in insecticide target genes?
The genes encoding the three major targets of conventional insecticides are: Rdl, which encodes a gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor subunit (RDL); para, which encodes a voltage-gated sodium channel (PARA); and Ace, which encodes insect acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Interestingly, despite the complexity of the encoded receptors or enzymes, very few amino acid residues are replaced in different resistant insects: one within RDL, two within PARA and three or more within AChE. Here we examine the possible reasons underlying this extreme conservation by looking at the aspects of receptor and/or enzyme function that may constrain replacements to such a limited number of residues. (+info)
Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases and insecticide resistance in insects.
Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases are involved in many cases of resistance of insects to insecticides. Resistance has long been associated with an increase in monooxygenase activities and with an increase in cytochrome P450 content. However, this increase does not always account for all of the resistance. In Drosophila melanogaster, we have shown that the overproduction of cytochrome P450 can be lost by the fly without a corresponding complete loss of resistance. These results prompted the sequencing of a cytochrome P450 candidate for resistance in resistant and susceptible flies. Several mutations leading to amino-acid substitutions have been detected in the P450 gene CYP6A2 of a resistant strain. The location of these mutations in a model of the 3D structure of the CYP6A2 protein suggested that some of them may be important for enzyme activity of this molecule. This has been verified by heterologous expression of wild-type and mutated cDNA in Escherichia coli. When other resistance mechanisms are considered, relatively few genetic mutations are involved in insecticide resistance, and this has led to an optimistic view of the management of resistance. Our observations compel us to survey in more detail the genetic diversity of cytochrome P450 genes and alleles involved in resistance. (+info)
High sequence turnover in the regulatory regions of the developmental gene hunchback in insects.
Extensive sequence analysis of the developmental gene hunchback and its 5' and 3' regulatory regions in Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila virilis, Musca domestica, and Tribolium castaneum, using a variety of computer algorithms, reveals regions of high sequence simplicity probably generated by slippage-like mechanisms of turnover. No regions are entirely refractory to the action of slippage, although the density and composition of simple sequence motifs varies from region to region. Interestingly, the 5' and 3' flanking regions share short repetitive motifs despite their separation by the gene itself, and the motifs are different in composition from those in the exons and introns. Furthermore, there are high levels of conservation of motifs in equivalent orthologous regions. Detailed sequence analysis of the P2 promoter and DNA footprinting assays reveal that the number, orientation, sequence, spacing, and protein-binding affinities of the BICOID-binding sites varies between species and that the 'P2' promoter, the nanos response element in the 3' untranslated region, and several conserved boxes of sequence in the gene (e.g., the two zinc-finger regions) are surrounded by cryptically-simple-sequence DNA. We argue that high sequence turnover and genetic redundancy permit both the general maintenance of promoter functions through the establishment of coevolutionary (compensatory) changes in cis- and trans-acting genetic elements and, at the same time, the possibility of subtle changes in the regulation of hunchback in the different species. (+info)
Activities of citrate synthase, NAD+-linked and NADP+-linked isocitrate dehydrogenases, glutamate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase in nervous tissues from vertebrates and invertebrates.
1. The activities of citrate synthase and NAD+-linked and NADP+-linked isocitrate dehydrogenases were measured in nervous tissue from different animals in an attempt to provide more information about the citric acid cycle in this tissue. In higher animals the activities of citrate synthase are greater than the sum of activities of the isocitrate dehydrogenases, whereas they are similar in nervous tissues from the lower animals. This suggests that in higher animals the isocitrate dehydrogenase reaction is far-removed from equilibrium. If it is assumed that isocitrate dehydrogenase activities provide an indication of the maximum flux through the citric acid cycle, the maximum glycolytic capacity in nervous tissue is considerably greater than that of the cycle. This suggest that glycolysis can provide energy in excess of the aerobic capacity of the tissue. 2. The activities of glutamate dehydrogenase are high in most nervous tissues and the activities of aspartate aminotransferase are high in all nervous tissue investigated. However, the activities of alanine aminotransferase are low in all tissues except the ganglia of the waterbug and cockroach. In these insect tissues, anaerobic glycolysis may result in the formation of alanine rather than lactate. (+info)
Enhanced resistance to bacterial diseases of transgenic tobacco plants overexpressing sarcotoxin IA, a bactericidal peptide of insect.
Sarcotoxin IA is a bactericidal peptide of 39 amino acids found in the common flesh fly, Sarcophaga peregrina. Many agronomically important bacteria in Japan are killed by this peptide at sub-micro molar levels, and the growth of tobacco and rice suspension cultured cells is not inhibited with less than 25 microM. Transgenic tobacco plants which overexpress the peptide, i.e. over 250 pmol per gram of fresh leaf, under the control of a high expression constitutive promoter showed enhanced resistance to the pathogens for wild fire disease (Pseudomonas syringae pv. tabaci) and bacterial soft rot disease (Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora). (+info)
Two subunits of the insect 26/29-kDa proteinase are probably derived from a common precursor protein.
We previously identified the 26/29-kDa proteinase in the hemocytes of Sarcophaga peregrina (flesh fly) that appears to participate in elimination of foreign proteins in this insect [Eur. J. Biochem. 209, 939-944 (1992)]. Here, we report the cDNA cloning of this proteinase. The cDNA encodes a protein which includes both the 26- and 29-kDa subunit, strongly suggesting that the both subunits are derived from a single precursor protein. The 26- and 29-kDa subunit located at the amino-terminal and carboxyl-terminal of the precursor protein. The 29-kDa subunit itself appeared to be a proteinase, for this subunit had 52% sequence identity with Sarcophaga cathepsin L, while 26-kDa subunit had no significant similarity. We also showed that 26/29-kDa proteinase was insensitive to specific inhibitors of cathepsin L. These results indicate that this proteinase is a novel member of the papain family. We isolated similar cDNAs from Drosophila melanogaster and Periplaneta americana (cockroach), suggesting that this proteinase is conserved in a wide variety of insects and participates in their defense mechanisms. (+info)