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J Insect Physiol. 1997 Oct;43(10):915-930.

Developmental changes in teratocytes of the braconid wasp Cotesia congregata in larvae of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta.

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Department of Entomology, 5419 Boyce Hall, University of California-Riverside, Riverside, USA


The endoparasitic wasp Cotesia congregata develops in the hemocoel of larval stages of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. Teratocytes were released from the serosal membrane during hatching of the first instar wasp larva at 2-3days after oviposition; about 160 cells were released per embryo. The cells increased in diameter from about 10 to >200&mgr;m prior to wasp emergence. Nascent microvilli, visible on the cell surface before hatching of the first instar larva, rapidly increased in length and number following release of the cells. Irrespective of when the wasps were due to emerge, or how many parasitoids were present in the host, dramatic cytological changes occurred in the cells during the last instar of the host's development. Many of these morphological and ultrastructural changes were symptomatic of the cytological features of degenerating or apoptotic cells, and large numbers of vesicles appeared interspersed amongst the microvilli. The nucleus developed extensive dentritic ramifications, and the chromatin condensed in large clumps on the inner nuclear membrane. At the final stages of the wasps' development, the nucleus occupied the bulk of the interior of the cell. The cytoplasm gradually grew dramatically more electronluscent and less granular, as did the nucleoplasm, which is also indicative of impending cell death. Following the parasites' emergence, many of the cells underwent extensive blebbing of the cell surface. Teratocytes within a host appeared heterogeneous with respect to their morphological appearance. Analysis of the proteins secreted by teratocytes in vitro following labelling with (35)S-methionine showed that many (>30) polypeptides were synthesized de novo and secreted by the cells; some proteins were clearly targeted for secretion. We presume that the cells likely secrete a large number of proteins in vivo as well as in vitro.

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