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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2008 Jul;38(7):740-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2008.04.006. Epub 2008 May 10.

Vasopressin-like peptide and its receptor function in an indirect diuretic signaling pathway in the red flour beetle.

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


The insect arginine vasopressin-like (AVPL) peptide is of special interest because of its potential function in the regulation of diuresis. Genome sequences of the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum yielded the genes encoding AVPL and AVPL receptor, whereas the homologous sequences are absent in the genomes of the fruitfly, malaria mosquito, silkworm, and honeybee, although a recent genome sequence of the jewel wasp revealed an AVPL sequence. The Tribolium receptor for the AVPL, the first such receptor identified in any insect, was expressed in a reporter system, and showed a strong response (EC(50)=1.5 nM) to AVPL F1, the monomeric form having an intramolecular disulfide bond. In addition to identifying the AVPL receptor, we have demonstrated that it has in vivo diuretic activity, but that it has no direct effect on Malpighian tubules. However, when the central nervous system plus corpora cardiaca and corpora allata are incubated along with the peptide and Malpighian tubules, the latter are stimulated by the AVPL peptide, suggesting it acts indirectly. Summing up all the results from this study, we conclude that AVPL functions as a monomer in Tribolium, indirectly stimulating the Malpighian tubules through the central nervous system including the endocrine organs corpora cardiaca and corpora allata. RNA interference in the late larval stages successfully suppressed mRNA levels of avpl and avpl receptor, but with no mortality or abnormal phenotype, implying that the AVPL signaling pathway may have been near-dispensable in the early lineage of holometabolous insects.

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