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J Neurobiol. 1987 Nov;18(6):497-508.

Possible interactions of a steroid hormone and neural inputs in controlling the death of an identified neuron in the moth Manduca sexta.

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Department of Zoology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


The emergence of the adult Manduca sexta moth is followed by the loss of almost half of this insect's abdominal motoneurons and interneurons (Truman, 1983). This programmed cell death completes the transformation of the nervous system of the caterpillar into that of the moth. The death of these neurons has been previously shown to be a response to an endocrine signal: the decline in ecdysteroids that occurs at the end of metamorphosis (Truman and Schwartz, 1984). Our current research is focussed on the regulation of the fate of a pair of identified motoneurons, the MN-12 cells, in the third abdominal ganglion. Isolation of this ganglion from anterior parts of the nervous system can prevent the death of these cells at the time when they would normally die in response to the decline in ecdysteroids. Transection of the ventral nerve cord at various levels revealed that the source of this regulatory "death signal" is the fused pterothoracic ganglion and that it is transmitted via the interganglionic connectives. We hypothesize that the factors mediating this effect may act in concert with the ecdysteroid decline to specify the exact time of death for individual neurons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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