Ecdysteroid conjugation by tissues of adult females of Drosophila melanogaster

Andreas Dübendorfer, Peter Maróy

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In order to determine whether female adults of Drosophila can synthesize enzymatically cleavable ecdysteroid conjugates, we injected radiolabelled ecdysone into flies and cultured various organs in vitro in the presence of labelled ecdysteroids. Within 1 hr most of the injected ecdysone was metabolized to 20-hydroxyecdysone, high polarity products (HPP), low polarity products (LPP) and some highly apolar compounds (AP). Incubation of organs from axenically reared flies (abdominal carcass, gut, Malpighian tubules, ovaries) in a culture medium containing tritiated ecdysteroids revealed tissue-specific conjugate synthesis. HPP was found in all tissues, but was by far the most prominent metabolite in ovary cultures. All tissues except the ovaries also contained labelled LPP which appeared bound to the cells, especially of the carcass and the gut. HPP and LPP were synthesized from both ecdysone and 20-hydroxyecdysone in vitro. They were shown to be ecdysteroid conjugates by enzymatic hydrolysis: HPP was cleaved by Helix pomatia hydrolases, and LPP was digestible with porcine liver esterase. Whether any of these conjugates have specific functions in supplying the eggs with ecdysteroid precursors is not yet known.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-113
Number of pages5
JournalInsect Biochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1986



  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Malpighian tubules
  • conjugated ecdysteroids
  • ecdysteroid conjugates
  • ovaries

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