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PrefaceInsect signal transduction systemsCurrent knowledge and future directions.

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Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology 62:105–106 (2006)
Insect Signal Transduction Systems: Current
Knowledge and Future Directions
Jozef Vanden Broeck,* Guest Editor, and David Stanley,* Executive Editor
The papers in this special issue were originally
Claeys et al. report on new findings relative to
derived from presentations at the International Con-
the influence of the major insect hormones, juve-
gress of Entomology, Brisbane, Australia, in 2004.
nile hormone (JH) and 20-hydroxyecdysone (20-E),
The corresponding authors appeared as speakers in
on expression of genes encoding neuroparsins
a symposium entitled “Insect Signal Transduction
(NPs), small proteins originally known from the
Systems: Current Knowledge and Future Directions,”
pars intercerebralis–corpus cardiacum complex of
organized by Jozef Vanden Broeck (Leuven, Bel-
the migratory locust brain. Four distinct NPs have
gium) and David Stanley (Columbia, MO).
been detected in the desert locust. These proteins
Among the many exciting areas of insect sci-
regulate cellular events in nervous, reproductive,
ence, it would be extremely difficult to exaggerate
and perhaps other tissues. Claeys et al. now report
the importance of our growing knowledge on signal
on hormone-regulated NP gene expression in vari-
transduction systems. In recent years, the available
ous desert locust tissues, including ovaries, and
molecular information has grown exponentially as
place this new information into the biological con-
a result of genome and EST (“expressed sequence
text of locust reproduction. The study also exem-
tags”) sequencing projects. These projects already
plifies how downstream effects of hormones can
have an important impact on signal transduction
be analyzed on a molecular level.
research and provide novel insights in the evolu-
Sun and Song contribute important new details
tion of genes coding for important components of
on the regulation of the ultraspiracle protein (USP)
Drosophila. The ecdysone receptor (EcR) and its
signaling processes. Future challenges are to study
the functional relationships between (this plethora
heterodimerization partner, USP, are transcriptional
of) genes, as well as the regulation of their expres-
factors that mediate the gene expression actions
sion. In addition to the more traditional insect
of 20-E. Their activity can be regulated by transcrip-
tional/translational and also posttranslational
phila genetics and germline transformation tech-
mechanisms, including protein phosphorylation.
nology, some very powerful methods have now
Sun and Song surfaced the question of which pro-
become available for functional genomic analyses
tein kinases are responsible for regulating USP
in the postgenomic research era.
phosphorylation. The authors propose that Protein
physiology and the fruitful combination of
The four contributions to this issue highlight
Kinase C (PKC) phosphorylates USP based on their
important advances and illuminate emerging con-
data that inhibition of PKC blocks USP phospho-
cepts in insect signal transduction research.
rylation and 20-E-dependent gene expression.
*Correspondence to: Jozef Vanden Broeck, Laboratory for Developmental Physiology, Genomics and Proteomics, Department of Biology, Animal Physiology and
Neurobiology Section, Zoological Institute, Naamsestraat 59, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium. E-mail:
and David Stanley, Research Leader at USDA/ARS, Biological Control of Insects Research Laboratory, 1503 South Providence, Research Park, Columbia, MO
65203. E-mail:
© 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
DOI: 10.1002/arch.20126
Published online in Wiley InterScience (
Vanden Broeck and Stanley
Taneja-Bageshwar et al. investigated structure–
tion coupling is stimulated by two biogenic amines,
activity relationships of arthropod kinins and ki-
dopamine and serotonin. Both amines stimulate
nin receptors. They stably expressed kinin receptors
increases in intracellular cAMP and Ca
from the cattle tick, Boophilus microplus, and from
trations. However, the quality of the secreted sa-
the mosquito Aedes aegypti in CHO-K1 cells. This
liva varies according to the stimulating biogenic
achievement allowed them to test the activity of
amine. Serotonin stimulates secretion of a protein-
kinin core analogs using a calcium biolumines-
rich saliva, while dopamine stimulates secretion of
cence assay. They report that the kinin core pen-
a protein-free saliva. This work reveals two sepa-
rate saliva-secreting mechanisms under the control
required and the C-terminal amide is necessary for
of two distinct receptor ligands. Walz et al. point
receptor-mediated activity. Their assay also revealed
to future work on the receptors.
substantial differences between the tick and mos-
We bring these reports together to illuminate
quito kinin receptors. The work may form a basis
progress in the broad field of insect signal trans-
for the development of biologically stable kinin-
duction systems. The future holds real promise
like analogs.
for great advances in a research area that has al-
Finally, Walz et al. report on their advances in
ready contributed important fundamental informa-
understanding the physiology of the cockroach sali-
tion about how cells function in their biological
vary gland at the molecular level. Excitation–secre-
Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology
July 2006
doi: 10.1002/arch.
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knowledge, systemscurrent, signali, directional, transduction, future, prefaceinsect
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