Modes of Control of Insect Malpighian Tubules: Synergism, Antagonism, Cooperation and Autonomous Regulation

J Insect Physiol. 2000 Feb;46(2):107-117. doi: 10.1016/s0022-1910(99)00119-5.


Rates of fluid and ion secretion by insect Malpighian tubules are controlled by peptides, including CRF-related peptides and kinins, and in some species by serotonin. It now appears to be a general rule that tubule secretion rate is controlled through the interaction of two or more haemolymph-borne factors. In this review we suggest that these interactions may be classified as synergistic, cooperative, or antagonistic. When presented together, two diuretic factors may act in synergism, so that fluid secretion is stimulated to a greater extent than the sum of their individual effects. Synergism may involve one or more second messenger systems. Alternatively, diuretic factors may act in cooperation, so that although their overall effects are additive, cation and anion transport pathways are controlled separately by distinct second messenger systems. There is also one example of antagonism between factors controlling tubule secretion and between their respective second messengers; one factor is stimulatory, the other is inhibitory. In addition to the complex control of fluid and ion transport by haemolymph-borne factors, sophisticated autonomous regulatory mechanisms have been identified in Malpighian tubules. When triggered by appropriate stimuli, these mechanisms play homeostatic roles, preserving haemolymph osmolality or ionic composition.