The control of anterior foregut motility during a larval molt of the moth Manduca sexta involves the modulation of presynaptic activity. Academic Article uri icon


  • In the moth, Manduca sexta, anterior foregut motility is modulated during the larval-larval molts in order to control the timing of molting fluid (MF) ingestion. MF is the enzymatic mixture that destroys the outer cuticle so that it can be shed at the end of the molt. The onset of the larval-larval molt is characterized by a dramatic decline in the amplitude of the anterior foregut contractions so that MF is not prematurely ingested. As the end of the molt approaches, the robust contractions of the anterior foregut return and the MF is ingested, enabling the larva to free itself from its old cuticle. In the present study we examine possible mechanisms involved in modulating anterior foregut motility during a larval-larval molt. Our results reveal that the release of a blood-borne factor plays a role in the decline in anterior foregut peristaltic activity during the molt. This blood-borne factor reduces the efficacy of the presynaptic endings of the motorneurons, resulting in a reduction in the amplitude of the excitatory junctional potential (EJP) recorded from the anterior foregut musculature. We also present evidence that crustacean cardioactive peptide (CCAP) targets the motorneuron terminals and its actions are sufficient to trigger the dramatic increase in EJP amplitude and anterior foregut contractions. Finally, the surgical ablation of the subesophageal ganglion, which has been previously described to be a source of CCAP neurons and the CCAP projections to the anterior foregut region, blocks both the increase in anterior foregut motility and the ingestion of MF that normally occur at the end of a larval-larval molt.

publication date

  • October 2006