Invariant Association of Ecdysis With Increases in Cyclic 3',5'-guanosine Monophosphate Immunoreactivity in a Small Network of Peptidergic Neurons in the Hornworm, Manduca Sexta

J Comp Physiol A. 1997 Oct;181(4):319-30. doi: 10.1007/s003590050118.


At the end of each molt insects shed their old cuticle by performing the stereotyped behavior of ecdysis. In the moth, Manduca sexta, this behavior is triggered by the neuropeptide eclosion hormone (EH). Insights into the mechanism of action of EH have come from the identification of a small network of peptidergic neurons that shows increased cyclic 3',5'-guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) immunoreactivity at ecdysis in insects from many different orders. Here we present further evidence that strengthens the association between ecdysis and the occurrence of this cGMP response in Manduca. We found that the cGMP increases occurred at every ecdysis, although some of the neurons that showed a response at larval ecdysis did not participate at pupal and adult ecdysis. Both ecdysis and the cGMP increases only required an intact connection with the brain for the first 30 min after EH injection. Interestingly, ecdysis in debrained animals only occurred if the cGMP response had been initiated, suggesting that the onset of this response marks the time at which the central nervous system is first able to drive ecdysis. Finally, we found that the appearance of sensitivity to EH for triggering the cGMP response coincided with the time at which EH first triggers ecdysis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insect Hormones / physiology
  • Larva / physiology
  • Manduca / physiology*
  • Molting / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neuropeptides / physiology*
  • Pupa / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Insect Hormones
  • Neuropeptides
  • eclosion hormone
  • Cyclic GMP