Transcriptomic and Neuropeptidomic Analysis of the Stick Insect, Carausius morosus

J Proteome Res. 2018 Jun 1;17(6):2192-2204. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.8b00155. Epub 2018 May 11.


One of the most thoroughly studied insect species, with respect to locomotion behavior, is the stick insect Carausius morosus. Although detailed information exists on premotor networks controlling walking, surprisingly little is known about neuropeptides, which are certainly involved in motor activity generation and modulation. So far, only few neuropeptides were identified from C. morosus or related stick insects. We performed a transcriptome analysis of the central nervous system to assemble and identify 65 neuropeptide and protein hormone precursors of C. morosus, including five novel putative neuropeptide precursors without clear homology to known neuropeptide precursors of other insects ( Carausius neuropeptide-like precursor 1, HanSolin, PK-like1, PK-like2, RFLamide). Using Q Exactive Orbitrap and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, 277 peptides including 153 likely bioactive mature neuropeptides were confirmed. Peptidomics yielded a complete coverage for many of the neuropeptide propeptides and confirmed a surprisingly high number of heterozygous sequences. Few neuropeptide precursors commonly occurring in insects, including those of insect kinins and sulfakinins, could neither be found in the transcriptome data nor did peptidomics support their presence. The results of our study represent one of the most comprehensive peptidomic analyses on insects and provide the necessary input for subsequent experiments revealing neuropeptide function in greater detail.

Keywords: Carausius morosus; mass spectrometry; nervous system; neurohormones; neuropeptide precursors; peptidomics; stick insects; transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System*
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Insect Proteins / analysis
  • Insecta / chemistry*
  • Insecta / genetics
  • Neuropeptides / analysis*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization


  • Insect Proteins
  • Neuropeptides