We have studied changes in the pattern of specific neuropeptide gene expression during the metamorphosis of the Drosophila nervous system. Prior to metamorphosis, the Drosophila FMRFamide gene is expressed exclusively within the central nervous system in a stereotyped pattern that comprises roughly 60 neurons (Schneider et al., '91). Using in situ hybridization, we found that the FMRFamide gene was continuously expressed throughout all stages examined: at each of 15 stages of adult development and through at least the first 10 days of adult life. There were no differences between the results observed with 2 exon‐specific hybridization probes, thus indicating little if any alternative splicing during postembryonic development. Despite many changes in the positions of individual hybridization signals due to the large‐scale reorganization of the nervous system, the continuous pattern of gene expression through adult development permitted many adult signals to be identified as larval signals. We concluded that the adult pattern of FMRFamide gene expression was largely derived from persistent larval neurons. Adult‐specific hybridization signals in the brain and ventral ganglion were also detected and these corresponded to many of the ∼ 40 adult‐specific FMRFamide‐immunoreactive neurons. One specific larval signal was lost during adult development and the intensities of other signals fluctuated in reproducible manners. These stereotyped differences in hybridization signal intensity resemble similar observations made in larval stages (Schneider et al., '91) and support the hypothesis that the steady‐state levels of FMRFamide transcripts are differentially regulated among the diverse neurons that express the gene.
- insect neuropeptides