A previous study, using subtractive hybridization, identified five genes (esr16, esr20, Mng10, Mng14 and tps9) whose transcripts were up-regulated prior to metamorphosis in Manduca sexta nervous tissue. The developmental time points chosen for subtraction suggested that expression could be coordinately regulated and should be negatively regulated by the steroid hormones, the ecdysteroids. In the present paper, we present an analysis of the expression patterns of these five genes, using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), at various times during development and assess the effects of 20-hydroxyecdysone and cycloheximide on their expression in vitro. This analysis revealed that with the exception of esr20 all transcripts were detectable at all times and that all but one of the genes were up-regulated in vivo and in vitro in the absence or in the presence of low levels of the ecdysteroids. In the absence of ecdysteroids, cycloheximide blocked the accumulation of only two transcripts, esr16 and esr20. These results reveal a much more complex pattern of gene expression in the central nervous system prior to metamorphosis than previously imagined.

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