Submitted to: Frontiers in Endocrinology
Publication Type: Review article
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/9/2012
Publication Date: 2/28/2012
Citation: Choi, M.Y., Vander Meer, R.K. 2012. Molecular structure and diversity of PBAN/Pyrokinin family peptides in ants. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 3(32):1-8. Interpretive Summary: Imported fire ants, a pest social insect, causes over 7 billion dollars in annual control and damage costs in the United States and has recently spread to several other countries such as Australia, Taiwan and China. The affected economic sectors include: residential households, electric and communication systems, agriculture, golf courses, and recreational areas. Novel biologically-based or environmentally friendly methods for control of these pest ants are needed to reduce our dependence on pesticides. Scientists from the Imported Fire Ant and Household Insect Unit at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA, ARS, Gainesville, FL consolidate new and previous data on fire ant/social insect PBAN/pyrokinin neuropeptides, including molecular structure, expression, and the diversity of these genes. Understanding the role of these peptides may lead to novel biologically-based control possibilities for this important invasive pest ant. The accumulation of basic research lays the foundation for the elucidation of neuropeptide physiological effects, e.g. pheromone regulation and other essential functions of fire ant development and reproduction, for possible applications.
Technical Abstract: Neuropeptides are the largest group of insect hormones. They are produced in the central and peripheral nervous systems and affect insect development, reproduction, feeding and behavior. A variety of neuropeptide families have been identified in insects. One of these families is the PBAN/Pyrokinin family defined by a common FXPRLamide or similar amino acid fragment at the C-terminal end. These peptides, found in all insects studied thus far, have been conserved throughout evolution. The most well studied physiological function is regulation of moth pheromone biosynthesis through the Pheromone Biosynthesis Activating Neurohormone (PBAN), although several developmental functions have also been reported. Over the past four years we have extended knowledge of the PBAN/Pyrokinin family of peptides to ants, focusing mainly on the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. The fire ant is one of the most studied social insects and over the last 60 years a great deal has been learned about many aspects of this ant, including the behaviors and chemistry of pheromone communication. However, virtually nothing is known about the regulation of these pheromone systems. Recently, we demonstrated the presence of PBAN/Pyrokinin immunoreactive neurons in the fire ant, and identified and characterized PBAN and additional neuropeptides. We have mapped the fire ant PBAN gene structure and determined the tissue expression level in the central nervous system of the ant. We review here our research to date on the molecular structure and diversity of ant PBAN/pyrokinin peptides in preparation for determining the function of the product neuropeptides in ants and other social insects.