Time and site of assembly of the peritrophic membrane of the mosquito Aedes aegypti

Cell Tissue Res. 1988 May;252(2):473-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00214391.


We determined the time and site of secretion of the precursors of the peritrophic membrane (PM) in Aedes aegypti and when the structure is assembled. The fine structure of the developing membrane of blood-feed females was described, and the pattern of secretion of injected tritiated glucosamine analyzed autoradiographically. Immediately following blood feeding, ingested red cells rapidly become compressed, such that the surrounding plasma is extruded to the margin of the midgut contents. Thereby, ingested fluids form a narrow margin separating the blood mass from the midgut epithelium. By electron microscopy, the PM first becomes evident at about 4 to 8 h after blood is ingested, and the membrane attains mature texture by 12 h. The compacted mass of ingested erythrocytes seems to serve as a template for the forming structure. In contrast, tritiated glucosamine, injected into freshly engorged mosquitoes, begins to concentrate on the midgut microvilli by 2 h after feeding. By 8 h the label assumes the layered appearance that characterizes the fine structure of the mature membrane. In contrast to the prevailing concept that the PM of mosquitoes first assumes texture anteriorly immediately after blood is ingested, we find that this potential barrier to pathogen development forms no earlier than 4 h after feeding and that it is formed from precursors secreted along the entire length of the epithelium overlying the food mass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Digestive System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Erythrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Membranes / cytology
  • Membranes / physiology
  • Microscopy, Electron / methods
  • Protein Precursors
  • Templates, Genetic
  • Time Factors


  • Protein Precursors