The endocrine system of insects is largely based on peptide hormones. Nevertheless, an unequivocal chemical demonstration of the occurence in the hemolymph (the 'insect blood') is still lacking for most if not all insect peptide hormones, although this is the only way to prove their hormonal status. Focusing on peptides released during ecdysis behavior of the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta, we developed a purification protocol based on ultrafiltration and a single reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) step that for the first time allowed the mass spectrometric and chemical identification of a peptide hormone in the hemolymph of single specimens. Since this method is simple, relatively cheap and fast, it should be useful for routine endocrinological analyses and for monitoring peptide release during different physiological conditions and behaviors in insects.
Copyright (c) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.