Benelux Congress of Zoology edition:13 location:Leuven, Belgium date:27-28 October 2006
The last decade there has been an explosion of peptidomic information thanks to large genome sequencing projects. For invertebrate neuropeptides, mainly holometabolous insects (D. melanogaster, A. mellifera, …) and the nematode C. elegans have been studied. Heterometabolous insects, although comprising many economically important species, have been far less studied. The migratory locust, for example, is one of the most infamous agricultural pests. However, neuropeptide research is hampered by the absence of genomic information. Considering the locust’s genome size (30 x genome of D. melanogaster) this is not likely to change in the near future.
Fortunately Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) can compensate for the lack of genomic information. Recently, EST databases were constructed for L. migratoria. Using bioinformatical tools, we screened these databases for neuropeptide precursors. Several previously identified neuropeptide precursors, two novel neuroparsin precursors and the hitherto unknown tachykinin precursor, which yielded an additional TK-like sequence, were annotated. Using neuropeptide precursors from D. melanogaster as a query, we succeeded in annotating the NPF, AST-C and ETH precursor, which until now had not been identified in any heterometabolous insect. Translation of the predicted neuropeptides in neural tissues was confirmed with mass spectrometric techniques for the TK-, ETH- and AST-C precursor.