Identification of the first insulin-like peptide in the disease vector Rhodnius prolixus: Involvement in metabolic homeostasis of lipids and carbohydrates.

Defferrari MS, Orchard I, Lange AB

Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 2016 Mar; 70():148-59

PMID: 26742603


Insulin-like peptides (ILPs) are functional analogs of insulin and have been identified in many insect species. The insulin cell signaling pathway is a conserved regulator of metabolism, and in insects, as well as in other animals, can modulate physiological functions associated with the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates. In the present study, we have identified the first ILP from the Rhodnius prolixus genome (termed Rhopr-ILP) and investigated its involvement in energy metabolism of unfed and recently fed fifth instars. We have cloned the cDNA sequence and analyzed the expression profile of the transcript, which is predominantly present in neurosecretory cells in the brain, similar to other insect ILPs. Using RNAi, we have reduced the expression of this peptide transcript by 90% and subsequently measured the carbohydrate and lipid levels in the hemolymph, fat body and leg muscles. Reduced levels of Rhopr-ILP transcript induced increased carbohydrate and lipid levels in the hemolymph and increased lipid content in the fat body, in unfed insects and recently fed insects. Also their fat bodies displayed enlarged lipid droplets within the cells. On the other hand, the carbohydrate content in the fat body and in the leg muscles of unfed insects were decreased when compared to control insects. Our results indicate that Rhopr-ILP is a modulator of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, probably through signaling the presence of available energy and nutrients in the hemolymph.