Helicokinin alters ion transport in the secondary cell-containing region of the Malpighian tubule of the larval cabbage looper Trichoplusia ni
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Excretion in insects is accomplished by the combined actions of the Malpighian tubules (MTs) and hindgut, which together form the functional kidney. MTs of many insect groups consist of principal cells (PC) and secondary cells (SC). In most insect groups SCs are reported to secrete ions from haemolymph into the tubule lumen. Paradoxically, SCs in the MTs of the lepidopteran cabbage looper T. ni are used to reabsorb Na+ and K+ back into haemolymph. The current study was designed to investigate the effects and mode of action of the lepidopteran kinin, Helicokinin (HK), on ion transport in the SC-containing region of MT of T. ni. We identified a HK receptor (HK-R) homologue in T. ni and detected its expression in the SC-containing region of the MTs. The mRNA abundance of hk-r altered in response to changes in dietary K+ and Na+ content. HK-R immunolocalized to both PCs and SCs. Ramsay assays of preparations of the isolated distal ileac plexus (DIP) indicated that [HK] = 10-8 M: (i) decreased fluid secretion rate in unstimulated and serotonin-stimulated preparations, and (ii) increased [Na+]/[K+] ratio in the secreted fluid. Scanning ion-selective electrode technique measurements revealed that HK reduced: (i) K+ secretion by the PCs, and (ii) Na+ reabsorption by the SCs in intact tubules. In vitro incubation of the DIP with HK resulted in reduced mRNA abundance of hk-r as well as Na+/K+-ATPase subunit α (NKAα), Na+/K+/Cl- co-transporter (nkcc), Na+/H+ exchangers (nhe) 7 and 8, and aquaporin (aqp) 1. Taken together, results of the current study suggest that HK is capable of altering fluid secretion rate and [Na+]/[K+] ratio of the fluid, and that HK targets both PCs and SCs in the DIP of T. ni.
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