Identification of the first insulin-like peptide in the disease vector Rhodnius prolixus: Involvement in metabolic homeostasis of lipids and carbohydrates

Rhodnius prolixus
Thursday, March 3, 2016 - 8:34am

U of T is famous for the discovery of insulin. This compound and its analogs continues to fuel intrigue, discoveries and innovation at our university, as demonstrated by the recent paper by PDF Dr. Marina Defferrari (Lange Lab) “Identification of the first insulin-like peptide in the disease vector Rhodnius prolixus: Involvement in metabolic homeostasis of lipids and carbohydrates” in the journal Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Marina identified the first insulin-like peptide in the Chagas disease vector Rhodnius prolixus and investigated its involvement in energy homeostasis both in starved and recently fed insects. The predicted hormone shows high sequence similarity to human insulin and when its transcript was silenced they observed various metabolic effects. Without the insulin-like peptide, lipids accumulated in the fat body and increased in the hemolymph, whereas carbohydrates showed the opposite pattern. Also, the insects’ muscles had decreased carbohydrate content in the absence of insulin. These results suggest that insulin-like peptides play an evolutionarily conserved role in sugar and lipid metabolism in organisms as diverged as insects and humans.