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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2012 May;42(5):360-70.

Analysis of lipolysis underlying lactation in the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans.

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Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Female tsetse flies undergo viviparous reproduction, generating one larva each gonotrophic cycle. Larval nourishment is provided by the mother in the form of milk secretions. The milk consists mostly of lipids during early larval development and shifts to a balanced combination of protein and lipids in the late larval instars. Provisioning of adequate lipids to the accessory gland is an indispensable process for tsetse fecundity. This work investigates the roles of Brummer lipase (Bmm) and the adipokinetic hormone (AKH)/adipokinetic hormone receptor (AKHR) systems on lipid metabolism and mobilization during lactation in tsetse. The contributions of each system were investigated by a knockdown approach utilizing siRNA injections. Starvation experiments revealed that silencing of either system results in prolonged female lifespan. Simultaneous suppression of bmm and akhr prolonged survival further than either individual knockdown. Knockdown of akhr and bmm transcript levels resulted in high levels of whole body lipids at death, indicating an inability to utilize lipid reserves during starvation. Silencing of bmm resulted in delayed oocyte development. Respective reductions in fecundity of 20 and 50% were observed upon knockdown of akhr and bmm, while simultaneous knockdown of both genes resulted in 80% reduction of larval production. Omission of one bloodmeal during larvigenesis (nutritional stress) after simultaneous knockdown led to almost complete suppression of larval production. This phenotype likely results from tsetse's inability to utilize lipid reserves as loss of both lipolysis systems leads to accumulation and retention of stored lipids during pregnancy. This shows that both Bmm lipolysis and AKH/AKHR signaling are critical for lipolysis required for milk production during tsetse pregnancy, and identifies the underlying mechanisms of lipid metabolism critical to tsetse lactation. The similarities in the lipid metabolic pathways and other aspects of milk production between tsetse and mammals indicate that this fly could be used as a novel model for lactation research.

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