The cuticular localization of integument peptides from particular routing categories

Michael Locke, Agnes Kiss, Miklos Sass

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The distribution of integument peptides in relation to chitin and structural features has been studied in the surface epidermis of the caterpillar of Calpodes ethlius by immunoblotting and immunogold labelling using antibodies prepared to peptides isolated from lamellate endocuticle or from hemolymph. The intermoult cuticle consists of an epicuticle, an endocuticle of many chitin containing lamellae, and a chitin containing assembly zone directly above the apical epidermal microvilli and the perimicrovillar space. During the intermoult, the epidermis secretes peptides constitutively, that is, secretory vesicles containing peptides exocytose without accumulating, traverse the perimicrovillar space and form lamellae in the assembly zone. At moulting, the epidermis deposits ecdysial droplets in addition. These interrupt the last few lamellae which later go on to become the perforated ecdysial membrane. The integument is involved with four routing classes of peptide. Secretion is apical into the cuticle (C), basal into the hemolymph (H), bidirectional (BD), or transported to the cuticle across the epidermis from the hemolymph (T). Some peptides change their routing at moulting. There are several patterns of localization. (1) C and BD cuticular peptides occur mainly in chitin containing lamellate cuticle. (2) Some are also present in epicuticle, and are therefore not obligatorily linked to chitin or matrix between chitin fibers. Cuticular peptides that also occur in the hemolymph are glycosylated, whereas most that are only secreted apically into the cuticle are not. All BD but few C peptides carry α-D-glucose/α-D-mannose. Some C and BD peptides carry N-acetyl glucosamine. (3) C36 extracted from cuticle has most N-acetyl glucosamine and colocalizes with chitin rather than the protein matrix. It is therefore probably the main link between chitin fibers and the matrix. (4) H235 is barely detectable at the apical cell surface during the intermoult but is abundant at moulting around and below the ecdysial droplets. (5) T66 occurs in intermoult lamellate cuticle. At moulting, alone among the peptides examined, it is in ecdysial droplets. Intermoult C and BD peptides are not in ecdysial droplets but continue to be present in the ecdysial membrane, suggesting that constitutive secretion is independent from the exocytosis of transported moult peptides. T66 differs from most hemolymph peptides in that it does not carry N-acetyl glucosamine or α-D-glucose/α-D-mannose. (6) Weakly reacting BD peptides (and some H peptides barely detectable in cuticle) localize near the apical surface. Their distribution therefore favours apical secretion and retrieval as a mechanism for basal secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-734
Number of pages28
JournalTissue and Cell
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1994



  • Insect cuticle
  • chitin-protein association
  • epidermis
  • glycosylation
  • hemolymph
  • peptide routing
  • transepithelial transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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