Identification, characterization and developmental expression of Halloween genes encoding P450 enzymes mediating ecdysone biosynthesis in the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta

Kim Rewitz, Robert Rybczynski, James T. Warren, Lawrence I. Gilbert

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The insect molting hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) plays a central role in regulating gene expression during development and metamorphosis. In many Lepidoptera, the pro-hormone 3-dehydroecdysone (3DE), synthesized from cholesterol in the prothoracic gland, is rapidly converted to ecdysone (E) by a hemolymph reductase, and E is subsequently converted to 20E in various peripheral target tissues. Recently, four Drosophila melanogaster P450 enzymes, encoded by specific Halloween genes, were cloned and functionally characterized as mediating the last hydroxylation steps leading to 20E. We extended this work to the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta, an established model for endocrinological and developmental studies. cDNA clones were obtained for three Manduca orthologs of CYP306A1 (phantom; phm, the 25-hydroxylase), CYP302A1 (disembodied; dib, the 22-hydroxylase) and CYP315A1 (shadow; sad, the 2-hydroxylase), expressed predominantly in the prothoracic gland during the fifth (final) larval instar and during pupal-adult development, with fifth instar mRNA levels closely paralleling the hemolymph ecdysteroid titer. The data indicate that transcriptional regulation of phm, dib and sad plays a role in the developmentally varying steroidogenic capacities of the prothoracic glands during the fifth instar. The consistent expression of the Halloween genes confirms the importance of the prothoracic glands in pupal-adult development. These studies establish Manduca as an excellent model for examining the regulation of the Halloween genes.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)188-199
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    • Molting
    • Steroid hydroxylation
    • P450
    • Halloween
    • Insect
    • Development

    Cite this