A study conducted by University of Utah genetics researchers shows that the steroid hormone ecdysone controls an important phase in the embryonic development of insects, providing an unexpected parallel with the role of the hormone in controlling metamorphosis. The studys findings also give scientists new insights into how steroids control maturation in higher organisms.
Carl S. Thummel, Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of human genetics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said that although other studies have established a critical role for ecdysone in controlling insect metamorphosis, very little was known about roles for the hormone during embryonic development.
To find the answer, Thummel and Tatiana Kozlova, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research associate, looked at the activation pattern of the receptor for ecdysone. They found that this receptor is highly activated in an extraembryonic tissue called amnioserosa, a tissue that does not itself form part of the embryo, but is nonetheless required for embryonic development. Thummel said the source of ecdysone in the early embryo, prior to the development of the insect endocrine organ, has always baffled scientists. "Our findings suggest that the earliest source of hormone is the amnioserosa," he said, "although other sources are likely to contribute at later times."
Cindy Fazzi | EurekAlert!
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