Acta Biologica Hungarica

, Volume 55, Issue 1–4, pp 91–102 | Cite as

From Bioassays to Drosophila Genetics: Strategies for Characterizing an Essential Insect Neurohormone, Bursicon

  • H.-W. HoneggerEmail author
  • Elizabeth M. Dewey
  • Barbara Kostron


We describe the molecular analysis and cellular expression of the insect peptide neurohormone, bursicon. Bursicon triggers the sclerotization of the soft insect cuticle after ecdysis. Using protein elution analyses from SDS gels, we determined the molecular weight of bursicon from different insects to be approximately 30 kDa. Four partial peptide sequences of Periplaneta americana bursicon were obtained from purified nerve cord homogenates separated on two-dimensional gels. Antibodies produced against one of the sequences identified the cellular location of bursicon in different insects and showed that bursicon is co-produced with crustacean cardioactive peptide (CCAP) in the same neurons in all insects tested so far. Additionally, using the partial peptide sequences, we successfully searched the Drosophila genome project for the gene encoding bursicon. With Drosophila as a tool, we can now verify the function of the sequence using transgenic flies. Sequence comparisons also allowed us to verify that bursicon is conserved, corroborating the older data from bioassays and immunohistochemical analyses. The sequence of bursicon will enable further analysis of its function, release, and evolution.


Insect cuticle neuropeptide protein purification ecdysis immunocytochemistry 


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2004

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • H.-W. Honegger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth M. Dewey
    • 1
  • Barbara Kostron
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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