Prospects of using Drosophila for insect neuroendocrine research

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Classical and in vitro approaches for the analysis of the molecular components of neuroendocrine systems often disrupt their close interaction with other bodily systems, which is a crucial aspect of their function in vivo. “Genetic dissection” is an alternative, noninvasive approach which involves the systematic generation of mutations in individual genes, followed by in vivo analysis of the phenotypic effects of altering a single protein at a time avoiding extraneous disruptions. Among insects Drosophila melanogaster is the most suitable model for this approach. This paper explores the application of genetic and molecular techniques available in Drosophila for studying its neuroendocrine system with special emphasis on the production of ecdysone and juvenile hormone. Strategies are described for the generation and identification of endocrine mutations, especially those affecting hormone synthesis and regulation. Once identified by a specific mutation, a gene in Drosophila can be cloned either by chromosomal microdissection and “chromosomal walk” or by transposon tagging. Methods for molecular analysis of the structure and function of a cloned gene and of the protein it encodes are available for further study. Alternatively, a gene can be cloned using heterologous DNA probes or oligonucleotides designed according to the amino acid sequence of a protein. Genes may also be cloned via their pattern of expression using stage‐ or tissue‐specific cDNA libraries or through transposon‐mediated “enhancer detection.” Anti‐sense RNA, the replacement of the gene by in vitro manipulated versions, or mutagenesis of its endogenous copies can then be used for studying its function in vivo. Information about endocrine genes in Drosophila as well as material such as cloned genes and antibodies should be useful for the analysis of endocrine systems in other insects which are not amenable to genetic manipulations. Such information should be helpful in designing novel means for pest control based on the specific intervention with endocrine systems regulating insect development and reproduction. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-231
Number of pages33
JournalArchives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1993


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