Insect capa neuropeptides impact desiccation and cold tolerance

Selim Terhzaz, Nicholas M. Teets, Pablo Cabrero, Louise Henderson, Michael G. Ritchie, Ronald J. Nachman, Julian A.T. Dow, David L. Denlinger, Shireen A. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The success of insects is linked to their impressive tolerance to environmental stress, but little is known about how such responses aremediated by the neuroendocrine system. Here we show that the capability (capa) neuropeptide gene is a desiccation- and cold stressresponsive gene in diverse dipteran species. Using targeted in vivo gene silencing, physiological manipulations, stress-tolerance assays, and rationally designed neuropeptide analogs, we demonstrate that the Drosophila melanogaster capa neuropeptide gene and its encoded peptides alter desiccation and cold tolerance. Knockdown of the capa gene increases desiccation tolerance but lengthens chill coma recovery time, and injection of capa peptide analogs can reverse both phenotypes. Immunohistochemical staining suggests that capa accumulates in the capa-expressing Va neurons during desiccation and nonlethal cold stress but is not released until recovery from each stress. Our results also suggest that regulation of cellular ion and water homeostasis mediated by capa peptide signaling in the insect Malpighian (renal) tubules is a key physiological mechanism during recovery from desiccation and cold stress. This work augments our understanding of how stress tolerance is mediated by neuroendocrine signaling and illustrates the use of rationally designed peptide analogs as agents for disrupting protective stress tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2882-2887
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 3 2015


  • Capa
  • Desiccation and cold tolerance
  • Environmental stress
  • Insects
  • Neuropeptides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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