, Volume 331, Issue 3, pp 659-673

Developmental regulation and functions of the expression of the neuropeptide corazonin in Drosophila melanogaster

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Although the corazonin gene (Crz) has been molecularly characterized, little is known concerning the function of this neuropeptide in Drosophila melanogaster. To gain insight into Crz function in Drosophila, we have investigated the developmental regulation of Crz expression and the morphology of corazonergic neurons. From late embryo to larva, Crz expression is consistently detected in three neuronal groups: dorso-lateral Crz neurons (DL), dorso-medial Crz neurons (DM), and Crz neurons in the ventral nerve cord (vCrz). Both the vCrz and DM groups die via programmed cell death during metamorphosis, whereas the DL neurons persist to adulthood. In adults, Crz is expressed in a cluster of six to eight neurons per lobe in the pars lateralis (DLP), in numerous neuronal cells in the optic lobes, and in a novel group of four abdominal ganglionic neurons present only in males (ms-aCrz). The DLP group consists of two subsets of cells having different developmental origins: embryo and pupa. In the optic lobes, we have detected both Crz transcripts and Crz promoter activity, but no Crz-immunoreactive products, suggesting a post-transcriptional regulation of Crz mRNA. Projections of the ms-aCrz neurons terminate within the ventral nerve cord, implying a role as interneurons. Terminals of the DLP neurons are found in the retrocerebral complex that produces juvenile hormone and adipokinetic hormone. Significant reduction of trehalose levels in adults lacking DLP neurons suggests that DLP neurons are involved in the regulation of trehalose metabolism. Thus, the tissue-, stage-, and sex-specific expression of Crz and the association of Crz with the function of the retrocerebral complex suggest diverse roles for this neuropeptide in Drosophila.

This work was supported by a USA National Science Foundation grant to J.H.P. (IBN-0133538) and, in part, by the Basic Research Program of the Korean Science and Engineering Foundation to K.-M.K. (R05-2004-000-10770-0).