The ‘classic’ insect hormones, juvenile hormone and 20-hydroxyecdysone, can stimulate vitellogenesis and/or ovarian development in adult females of several insect species. Accumulating evidence also indicates a crucial role in female reproductive physiology for peptide hormones, such as insulin-related peptides (IRPs) and neuroparsins (NPs). Especially in dipteran species, IRP signaling has been shown to regulate female reproductive events. The first NP was originally identified from the migratory locust (Locusta migratoria) as an antigonadotropic factor that delayed vitellogenesis. Moreover, NP family members display sequence similarities with the N-terminal domain of vertebrate insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBP). In the current study, RNA interference (RNAi) was employed to investigate the possible involvement of IRP and NPs in the control of the female desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) reproductive system.
The cDNAs encoding an IRP (Scg-IRP) and four NPs (Scg-NPs) had previously been cloned from S. gregaria. An RNAi-mediated knock-down of either Scg-NP or Scg-IRP transcript levels was induced in adult female desert locusts and the subsequent effects were analyzed. Knock-down of the Scg-NPs or Scg-IRP affected vitellogenin transcript levels and oocyte growth in a positive and negative way, respectively.
The current findings are indicative for a role of Scg-NPs and Scg-IRP in the control of vitellogenin synthesis. A plausible hypothesis is that Scg-IRP may act as a sensor of the nutritional and metabolic status that determines whether vitellogenesis can occur. That the same processes were affected in opposite ways in both RNAi experiments offers an extra argument for antagonizing roles of Scg-NPs and Scg-IRP.