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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2009 Oct;39(10):717-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2009.08.005. Epub 2009 Aug 27.

Functions of ion transport peptide and ion transport peptide-like in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, Kansas State University, 123 Waters Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.


Ion transport peptide (ITP) and ITP-like (ITPL) are highly conserved neuropeptides in insects and crustaceans. We investigated the alternatively spliced variants of ITP/ITPL in Tribolium castaneum to understand their functions. We identified three alternatively spliced transcripts named itp, itpl-1, and itpl-2. Expression patterns of the splice variants investigated by exon-specific in situ hybridization were somewhat different from those previously reported in other insect species. Most importantly, we found for the first time that itpl-1 transcripts are abundantly expressed in the midgut at the late larval stage, showing an expression pattern similar to that of the crustacean hyperglycemic hormone (CHH) in the crab Carcinus maenas. CHH was shown to function by increasing the body volume through fluid absorption, resulting in breakage of the outer shell at the time of molt. Exon-specific RNA interference (RNAi) was designed to distinguish between itp and itpl-1, but we were unable to design a dsRNA uniquely targeting or uniquely excluding itpl-2; therefore, RNAi targeting was limited to either itp/itpl-2 or itpl-1/itpl-2. For dsRNA injections in the larval stages, either RNAi led to gradually increasing mortality in the larval and pupal stages, with 100% cumulative mortality at the time of eclosion or shortly afterward. Developmental deficiencies in the adult tarsal segments were observed after RNAi suppressing either itp/itpl-2 or itpl-1/itpl-2. After dsRNA injections at the pupal stage, the most striking observation was a significant reduction in egg numbers (8% of control) and reduced survival of the offspring (5%) in RNAi targeting itpl-1/itpl-2, while a milder degree of the same phenotype was observed in that targeting itp/itpl-2.

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