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Structure and function of adipokinetic hormones of the large white butterfly Pieris brassicae

Heather G. Marco, Gerd Gäde
Physiological entomology 2017 v.42 no.2 pp. 103-112
Blattodea, Pieris brassicae, adults, bioassays, cabbage, complement, corpora cardiaca, crops, flight, fuels, hemolymph, hyperlipidemia, insect flight, larvae, lipids, liquid chromatography, locusts, mass spectrometry, migratory behavior, synthetic peptides, Asia, Europe, South Africa
The large white butterfly Pieris brassicae L. (also called cabbage white) is very common in Europe, Asia and the northern region of Africa, and has also been found in South Africa during approximately the last 20 years. The species is considered a pest insect, with larvae attacking brassicaceous crops. The adult is a strong migratory flyer and new territory can be infested this way. As a first step to investigate methods for combating this pest species, the present study aims to determine the complement of adipokinetic peptides, here generically referred to as adipokinetic hormones (AKHs), which are required to regulate the mobilization of fuels for insect flight. Biological assays, as well as mass spectrometry, reveal information about the presence, structure and function of AKHs in P. brassicae: a methanolic extract of the corpora cardiaca has hypertrehalosaemic activity in cockroaches, does not cause hyperlipaemia in locusts, and has adipokinetic activity in P. brassicae itself. Liquid‐chromatography electrospray ion trap mass spectrometry reveals three peptides that can be associated with the AKH family: the non‐amidated undecapeptide Vanca‐AKH (pELTFTSSWGGK‐OH), the nonapeptide Manse‐AKH (pELTFTSSWG amide) and the novel octapeptide Piebr‐AKH (pELTFSSGW amide). Sequence confirmation of all three assigned structures is obtained from matching mass spectrometry spectra from synthetic and native peptides. Moreover, the synthetic peptides Manse‐AKH and Piebr‐AKH have significant hyperlipaemic (=adipokinetic) activity when injected into newly‐emerged adult cabbage white butterflies. The non‐amidated Vanca‐AKH is, apparently, incompletely processed Manse‐AKH without hormonal activity. Simulated dispersal flight is able to release AKHs, as indicated by the higher concentration of lipids in the haemolymph of adult P. brassicae after activity and rest periods.