The wings of pharate adult tobacco hornworm moths, Manduca sexta, are relatively inextensible until 3 or 4 h before emergence from the pupal case. At this time the wing cuticle becomes plasticized, so that by the time of eclosion, the wings are readily extensible. This change in the mechanical properties of the wing cuticle is shown to be under the control of a factor from the head. This factor is present in the corpora cardiaca/corpora allata complex, and in the protocerebrum of the brain, being released into the blood prior to eclosion. It is able to act directly on isolated wings. The active principle was found to be indistinguishable in a number of ways from the hormone which triggers emergence from the pupal case, the eclosion hormone. Partial purification of the eclosion hormone failed to separate activity causing eclosion from activity causing wing cuticle plasticization. It is concluded that the same hormone is probably responsible for both effects. The cuticle plasticizing activity of the eclosion hormone forms the basis for a new, highly sensitive bioassay.

Another factor, distinct from the eclosion hormone, is able to cause wing cuticle plasticization. This factor is found in the abdominal nerve cord, and is only released into the blood after eclosion has occurred. It is probably identical with the tanning hormone, bursicon, which is released at this time. The factor in the nerve cord which causes cuticle plasticization is indistinguishable from bursicon in a number of ways, including partial purification by gel filtration. Bursicon evidently causes a further increase in wing cuticle extensibility after eclosion, at the time of wing inflation.

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