Differential expression of some termite neuropeptides and insulin/IGF-related hormones and their plausible functions in growth, reproduction and caste determination

Jan A. Veenstra
. 2023-02-05; :
DOI: 10.1101/2023.02.05.527168

AbstractBackgroundInsulin-like growth factor (IGF) and other Insulin-like peptides (ilps) are important hormones regulating growth and development in animals. Whereas most animals have a single female and male adult phenotype, in some insect species the same genome may lead to different final forms. Perhaps the best known example is the honeybee where females can either develop into queens or workers. More extreme forms of such polyphenism occur in termites, where queens, kings, workers and soldiers coexist. Both juvenile hormone and insulin-like peptides are known to regulate growth and reproduction as well as polyphenism. In termites the role of juvenile hormone in reproduction and the induction of the soldier caste is well known, but the role of IGF and other ilps in these processes remains largely unknown. Here the various termite ilps are identified and hypotheses regarding their functions suggested.MethodsGenome assemblies and transcriptome short read archives (SRAs) were used to identify insulin-like peptides and neuropeptides in termites and to determine their expression in different species, tissues and castes.Results and DiscussionTermites have seven different ilps,i.e. gonadulin, IGF and an ortholog ofDrosophilainsulin-like peptide 7 (dilp7), which are commonly present in insects, and four smaller peptides, that have collectively been called short IGF-related peptides (sirps) and individually atirpin, birpin, cirpin and brovirpin. Gonadulin is lost from the higher termites which have however amplified the brovirpin gene, of which they often have two or three paralogs. Based on differential expression of these genes it seems likely that IGF is a growth hormone and atirpin an autocrine tissue factor that is released when a tissue faces metabolic stress. Birpin seems to be responsible for growth and in the absence of juvenile hormone this may lead to reproductive adults or, when juvenile hormone is present, to soldiers. Brovirpin is expressed both by the brain and the ovary and likely stimulates vitellogenesis, while the function of cirpin is less clear.

Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus