Sexual differentiation in the CNS of the moth, Manduca sexta. II. Target dependence for the survival of the imaginal midline neurons

J Neurobiol. 1994 Sep;25(9):1054-66. doi: 10.1002/neu.480250903.


While the majority of neurons in the adult nervous system of the moth Manduca sexta are produced postembryonically, little is known about how these cells interact with their targets during development. Few of these cells are motor neurons; most of Manduca's adult motor neurons are respecified larval motor neurons that developed embryonically. A few motor neurons do develop postembryonically, including a large class of mixed neurosecretory and motor neurons called the imaginal midline neurons (IMNs). A subset of these cells show an unusual pattern of sex-specific development and survival (Thorn and Truman, 1994, J. Neurobiol. in press), which led us to suspect that factors extrinsic to the cells were controlling their fates. We analyzed one such potential factor by altering the contacts between a subset of these developing IMNs and their adult-specific target, the male sperm duct. When we transected the nerve that innervated the sperm duct in the pupa, we observed a loss of many sperm duct IMNs. In contrast, a transection of the same nerve in larvae showed no neuron loss. Immunocytochemistry showed that the pupal nerve transections were accompanied by a loss of axon endings on the sperm duct, while the larval nerve transections showed no such loss. Using local hormone application to slow the development of the sperm duct while leaving the nerve intact still resulted in a loss of IMNs. These results suggest that these IMNs need contact with a robust developing target in the pupa to survive metamorphosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / drug effects
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / growth & development
  • Genitalia, Female / drug effects
  • Genitalia, Female / growth & development
  • Genitalia, Female / innervation
  • Genitalia, Male / drug effects
  • Genitalia, Male / growth & development
  • Genitalia, Male / innervation
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Juvenile Hormones / pharmacology
  • Larva
  • Male
  • Manduca / physiology*
  • Metamorphosis, Biological / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Sex Differentiation / physiology*


  • Juvenile Hormones