Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 168, Issue 6, pp 697–707 | Cite as

The roles of central and peripheral eclosion hormone release in the control of ecdysis behavior in Manduca sexta

  • Randall S. Hewes
  • James W. Truman


  1. 1.

    Ecdysis, a behavior by which insects shed the old cuticle at the culmination of each molt, is triggered by a unique peptide hormone, eclosion hormone (EH). In pupal Manduca sexta, EH is released into the hemolymph just prior to ecdysis, and circulating hormone is sufficient to elicit this behavior.

  2. 2.

    Removal of the proctodeal nerves in prepupal animals eliminated the appearance of blood-borne EH, but ecdysis behavior occurred on schedule. Therefore, circulating EH is not necessary for the triggering of ecdysis.

  3. 3.

    In contrast, a set of dermal glands failed to show their expected bout of secretion after proctodeal nerve removal. Injection of exogenous EH rescued this secretion. Thus, circulating EH appears necessary for action on peripheral but not central targets.

  4. 4.

    A major reduction in EH immunostaining is seen in the proctodeal nerves just preceding ecdysis; this coincides with a >90% reduction in extractable EH from this structure and the appearance of circulating EH. A similar, concomitant reduction was seen in central EH cell processes, suggesting release of peptide within the CNS.

  5. 5.

    Antidromic stimulation of the proctodeal nerve stumps following proctodeal nerve removal triggered precocious ecdysis. This result further supports the conclusion that centrally released EH is sufficient to trigger the motor program.


Key words

Ecdysis Eclosion hormone Manduca sexta Neuropeptide Lepidoptera Pupal molt Verson's gland 



abdominal segment








clamp between segments Ax and Ay


central nervous system


eclosion hormone


egg-laying hormone


high pressure liquid chromatography


thoracic segment


phosphate-buffered saline




standard error of the mean


Triton X-100

VM cell

ventromedial cell


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randall S. Hewes
    • 1
  • James W. Truman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology NJ-15University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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