Amino Acids

, Volume 48, Issue 7, pp 1677–1684 | Cite as

Identification and bioactivity evaluation of the first neuropeptide from the lesser-known insect order Embioptera (webspinner)

  • Gerd GädeEmail author
  • Petr Šimek
  • Heather G. Marco
Original Article


A species of the poorly studied order Embioptera, the webspinner Oligotoma saundersii, is investigated for its complement of neuropeptides of the adipokinetic hormone (AKH) family. A methanolic extract of its corpora cardiaca (CC) is able to effect carbohydrate mobilization in the cockroach, Periplaneta americana, and liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray ionization mass spectrometry clearly identified one decapeptide as a member of the AKH family in the CC of O. saundersii. The primary structure of this peptide, code-named Olisa-AKH, is elucidated as pEVNFSPNWGG amide. It is a novel member of the AKH family and in its synthetic form it has strong hypertrehalosemic activity in the American cockroach. This effect may be explained by its near-identical structure compared with one of the endogenous cockroach AKH peptides. An analog with the reversed order of the proline and asparagine residues, viz. N6P7-Olisa-AKH, had negligible activity thus, shedding light on the requirements of the cockroach AKH receptor. From reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography experiments, we can conclude that the CC from an individual webspinner contains less than one pmol of Olisa-AKH. Comparison of the AKH sequences from the major orders of the Polyneoptera does not point to a close phylogenetic relationship between webspinners and stick insects.


Insect Webspinner Embioptera Adipokinetic peptide Mass spectrometry Metabolic bioassay 



Financial support of the present investigation was partially provided from grants of the National Research Foundation (Pretoria, South Africa; grant no. 85768 [IFR13020116790] to GG and IFR2011033100049 to HGM), by staff awards from the Research Council of the University of Cape Town (to GG and HGM) and the Czech Science Foundation (No. 13-18509S) to PS. We also acknowledge the assistance of DI. Pavla Kruzberska and Dr Martin Moos (Ceske Budejovice) for performing LC–MS and LC-HRMS analyses and Ms. Alukhanyo Xonti (Cape Town) for helping with bioassays.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

726_2016_2229_MOESM1_ESM.docx (461 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 460 kb)
726_2016_2229_MOESM2_ESM.docx (43 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 43 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Biology CentreThe Czech Academy of SciencesCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic

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