CSB Senior Lecturer Melody Neumann receives the Faculty of Arts & Science Outstanding Teaching Award!

Congratulations to CSB Senior Lecturer Melody Neumann who is a recipient of this year’s Faculty of Arts and Science Outstanding Teaching Awards. Dr. Neumann is an exceptional biology teacher that has made outstanding contributions to teaching innovation and course design. These innovations are best exemplified by the online learning tools she has developed, the inverted classroom she created and implemented, and the capstone team-based learning course she designed and taught. Dr. Neumann received her award from the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, Dr. David Cameron, at an awards ceremony on May 11th, 2015.

Identification and functional characterization of FGLamide-related allatostatin receptor in Rhodnius prolixus

Zandawala M, Orchard I

Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 2015 Feb;57:1-10

PMID: 25500190


FGLamide-related ASTs (FGLa/ASTs) are a family of brain/gut peptides with numerous physiological roles, including inhibition of juvenile hormone (JH) biosynthesis by the corpora allata and inhibition of visceral muscle contraction. FGLa/ASTs mediate their effects by binding to a rhodopsin-like G-protein coupled receptor that is evolutionarily related to the vertebrate galanin receptor. Here we determine the cDNA sequence encoding FGLa/AST receptor (FGLa/AST-R) from the Chagas disease vector, Rhodnius prolixus (Rhopr-FGLa/AST-R), determine its spatial expression pattern using quantitative PCR and functionally characterize the receptor using a heterologous assay. Our expression analysis indicates that Rhopr-FGLa/AST-R is highly expressed in the central nervous system. The receptor is also expressed in various peripheral tissues including the dorsal vessel, midgut, hindgut and reproductive tissues of both males and females, suggesting a role in processes associated with feeding and reproduction. The possible involvement of Rhopr-FGLa/ASTs in the inhibition of JH biosynthesis is also implicated due to presence of the receptor transcript in the R. prolixus corpora cardiaca/corpora allata complex. The functional assay showed that various Rhopr-FGLa/ASTs activate the receptor, with EC50 values for the response in the nanomolar range. Moreover, Rhopr-FGLa/AST-R can couple with Gq alpha subunits and cause an increase in intracellular calcium concentration. Lastly, we tested various FGLa/AST analogs in our heterologous assay. These compounds also activated the receptor and thus have the potential to serve as insect growth regulators and aid in pest control.

The distribution and physiological effects of three evolutionarily and sequence-related neuropeptides in Rhodnius prolixus: Adipokinetic hormone, corazonin and adipokinetic hormone/corazonin-related peptide

Patel H, Orchard I, Veenstra JA, Lange AB

Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 2014 Jan;195:1-8

PMID: 24184870


We have examined the distribution and physiological effects of three evolutionarily and sequence-related neuropeptides in Rhodnius prolixus. These neuropeptides, adipokinetic hormone (RhoprAKH), corazonin (CRZ) and adipokinetic hormone/corazonin-related peptide (RhoprACP) are present in distinct, non-overlapping neuronal subsets in the central nervous system (CNS), as determined by immunohistochemistry. Corazonin-like immunoreactive cell bodies are present in the brain and ventral nerve cord, whereas ACP-like immunoreactive cell bodies are only present in the brain, and AKH-like immunoreactive cell bodies only present in the corpus cardiacum (CC). The immunoreactivity to ACP, CRZ and AKH in R. prolixus suggests that ACP and CRZ are released within the CNS, and that CRZ and AKH are released as neurohormones from the CC. Injection of RhoprAKH into adult males elevated haemolymph lipid levels, but injection of CRZ or RhoprACP failed to have any effect on haemolymph lipid levels. Corazonin stimulated an increase in heart-beat frequency in vitro, but RhoprAKH and RhoprACP failed to do so. Thus, although all three neuropeptides share sequence similarity, the AKH and CRZ receptors only respond to their own ligand.