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The paired antennal lobes are the first integration centers for odor information in the insect brain. In the sphinx moth Manduca sexta, like in other holometabolous insects, they are formed during metamorphosis. To further understand mechanisms involved in the formation of this particularly well investigated brain area, we performed a direct peptide profiling of a well defined cell group (the lateral cell group) of the antennal lobe throughout development by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Although the majority of the about 100 obtained ion signals represent still unknown substances, this first peptidomic characterization of this cell group indicated the occurrence of 12 structurally known neuropeptides. Among these peptides are helicostatin 1, cydiastatins 2, 3, and 4, M. sexta-allatotropin (Mas-AT), M. sexta-FLRFamide (Mas-FLRFamide) I, II, and III, nonblocked Mas-FLRFamide I, and M. sexta-myoinhibitory peptides (Mas-MIPs) III, V, and VI. The identity of two of the allatostatins (cydiastatins 3 and 4) and Mas-AT were confirmed by tandem mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/TOF). During development of the antennal lobe, number and frequency of ion signals including those representing known peptides generally increased at the onset of glomeruli formation at pupal Stage P7/8, with cydiastatin 2, helicostatin 1, and Mas-MIP V being the exceptions. Cydiastatin 2 showed transient occurrence mainly during the period of glomerulus formation, helicostatin 1 was restricted to late pupae and adults, while Mas-MIP V occurred exclusively in adult antennal lobes. The power of the applied direct mass spectrometric profiling lies in the possibility of chemically identifying neuropeptides of a given cell population in a fast and reliable manner, at any developmental stage in single specimens. The identification of neuropeptides in the antennal lobes now allows to specifically address the function of these signaling molecules during the formation of the antennal lobe network.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Neurobiol

Publication Date





764 - 777


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Brain Chemistry, Manduca, Metamorphosis, Biological, Molecular Sequence Data, Neurons, Neuropeptides, Olfactory Bulb, Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization, Vibrissae