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J Insect Physiol. 2005 Aug;51(8):871-9.

An in vitro study on regulation of prothoracic gland activity in the early last-larval instar of the silkworm Bombyx mori.

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  • 1Division of Biological Science, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan.


The endocrine mechanisms that regulate prothoracic gland (PG) activity in early stages of final larval instar of the silkworm Bombyx mori were investigated using a newly developed long-term cultivation system of the gland. The PGs dissected from day-0 fifth instar larvae did not secrete detectable amounts of ecdysone for the first 24 h in culture but started secretion within the next 2 days. The amount of secreted ecdysone increased day by day. When day-0 PGs were co-cultivated with corpora allata, however, they remained inactive for at least 8 days. PGs dissected from 1-day younger larvae (day-3 fourth instar larvae) secreted ecdysone for the first 24 h but stopped secretion for the next 24 h, followed by recovery of ecdysone secretory activity. By contrast, PGs from day-1 fourth instar larvae remained active throughout a cultivation period without any sign of inactivation. However, when the same glands were exposed to a high titer of 20-hydroxyecdysone for the second 24h in culture, they gradually lost their activity. These results indicate that PGs of fourth instar larvae are inactivated by ecdysteroid through a negative feedback mechanism and that thus inactivated PGs spontaneously recover ecdysone secretory activity in the early fifth instar unless inhibited by juvenile hormone.

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