PHM is required for normal developmental transitions and for biosynthesis of secretory peptides in Drosophila

Ning Jiang, Aparna S. Kolhekar, Pamela S. Jacobs, Richard E. Mains, Betty A. Eipper, Paul H. Taghert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


To understand the roles of secretory peptides in developmental signaling, we have studied Drosophila mutant for the gene peptidylglycine α-hydroxylating monooxygenase (PHM). PHM is the rate-limiting enzyme for C-terminal α-amidation, a specific and necessary modification of secretory peptides. In insects, more than 90% of known or predicted neuropeptides are amidated. PHM mutants lack PHM protein and enzyme activity; most null animals die as late embryos with few morphological defects. Natural and synthetic PHM hypomorphs revealed phenotypes that resembled those animals with mutations in genes of the ecdysone-inducible regulatory circuit. Animals bearing a strong hypomorphic allele contain no detectable PHM enzymatic activity or protein; ~50% hatch and initially display normal behavior, then die as young larvae, often while attempting to molt. PHM mutants were rescued with daily induction of a PHM transgene and complete rescue was seen with induction limited to the first 4 days after egg-laying. The rescued mutant adults produced progeny which survived to various stages up through metamorphosis (synthetic hypomorphs) and displayed prepupal and pupal phenotypes resembling those of ecdysone-response gene mutations. Examination of neuropeptide biosynthesis in PHM mutants revealed specific disruptions: Amidated peptides were largely absent in strong hypomorphs, but peptide precursors, a nonamidated neuropeptide, nonpeptide transmitters, and other peptide biosynthetic enzymes were readily detected. Mutant adults that were produced by a minimal rescue schedule had lowered PHM enzyme levels and reproducibly altered patterns of amidated neuropeptides in the CNS. These deficits were partially reversed within 24 h by a single PHM induction in the adult stage. These genetic results support the hypothesis that secretory peptide signaling is critical for transitions between developmental stages, without strongly affecting morphogenetic events within a stage. Further, they show that PHM is required for peptide α-amidating activity thhroughout the life of Drosophila. Finally, they define novel methods to study neural and endocrine peptide biosynthesis arid functions in vivo. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-136
Number of pages19
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2000


  • Drosophila
  • FMRFamide
  • Neuropeptide biosynthesis
  • Neuropeptide signaling
  • PAM
  • PHM
  • α-amidation


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