Fisheries Science

, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

Mechanisms and control of vitellogenesis in crustaceans

  • T. SubramoniamEmail author
Review Article


Crustaceans produce complex yolk proteins to meet the substrate and energy requirements of embryonic development. Early electron microscopic investigations point to a biphasic yolk synthesis, first within the ovary, followed by heterosynthesis at extra-ovarian sites. Recent advances in molecular techniques have enhanced our understanding of the genetic control of yolk synthesis in crustaceans. Amino acid sequencing of crustacean vitellogenin (Vg) has enabled the elucidation of the cDNA sequence associated with it, the identification of genes, and the examination of their expression patterns in different tissues. Yolk processing in crustaeans involves cleavage of the pro-Vg at consensus sites by subtilisin-like endoproteases within the hepatopancreas, hemolymph and oocytes. The structural elucidation of crustacean yolk proteins, as well as the comparison of amino acid sequences of vitellogenins from various crustacean species, has revealed molecular phylogenetic relationships not only among them but also with other large lipid transfer lipoproteins of disparate function. The combinatorial effects of eyestalk neuropeptides and a variety of trophic hormones achieve the hormonal coordination of molting and reproduction. Biogenic amines secreted by the central nervous system may also play an integrative role by stimulating neuropeptide secretion.


Vitellogenesis Vitellogenin receptor Yolk processing Neuropeptides Methyl farnesoate Ecdysteroids 17β-Estradiol 



This review is fondly dedicated to Dr. Marcy N. Wilder of the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), Tsukuba, whose scientific association has significantly enhanced my understanding of crustacean vitellogenesis. I am thankful to my students, Dr. Vidya Jayasankar of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Chennai, and Dr. Sudha Warrier of the Manipal Medical College, Bangalore, for critically reading through the manuscript. I also thank Dr. C.P. Balasubramanian and Dr. Sherly Tom of the Central Institute of Brackish Water Aquaculture, Chennai for useful discussion. I am also grateful to Mr. S. Muthu Kumar of the National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai for his help in the homology study of vitellogenins. I finally thank the Indian National Science Academy for the award of the position of Senior Scientist.


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© The Japanese Society of Fisheries Science 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Biotechnology DivisionNational Institute of Ocean TechnologyChennaiIndia

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