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J Neurochem. 2011 Aug;118(4):581-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2010.07130.x. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

Deficiency of prohormone convertase dPC2 (AMONTILLADO) results in impaired production of bioactive neuropeptide hormones in Drosophila.

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Department of Biology, Animal Physiology, Philipps-University, Marburg, Germany.


Peptide hormones synthesized by secretory neurons in the CNS are important regulators of physiology, behavior, and development. Like other neuropeptides, they are synthesized from larger precursor molecules by a specific set of enzymes. Using a combination of neurogenetics, immunostainings, and direct mass spectrometric profiling, we show that the presence of Drosophila prohormone convertase 2 encoded by the gene amontillado (amon) is a prerequisite for the proper processing of neuropeptide hormones from the major neurohemal organs of the CNS. A loss of amon correlates with a loss of neuropeptide hormone signals from the larval ring gland and perisympathetic organs. Neuropeptide hormone signals were still detectable in the adult corpora cardiaca of older amon-deficient flies which were amon heat-shock-rescued until eclosion. A semiquantification by direct peptide profiling using stable isotopic standards showed, however, that their neuropeptide hormone levels are strongly reduced. Targeted expression of GFP under the control of amon regulatory regions revealed a co-localization with the investigated peptide hormones in secretory neurons of the brain and ventral nerve cord. The lack of AMON activity resulted in a deficiency of L3 larva to enter the wandering phase. In conclusion, our findings provide the first direct evidence that AMON is a key enzyme in the production of neuropeptides in the fruitfly.

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