The number of insect midgut cells is maintained homeostatically in vivo and in vitro. However, during starvation, the midgut shrinks and the rate of cell replacement appears to be suppressed. When they undergo metamorphosis, the internal organs of insects are drastically remodeled by cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptotic processes, and the net number of cells usually increases. An extract of 1650 midguts of Periplaneta americana was fractionated by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to obtain the peptides that regulate these processes. The HPLC fractions were tested for myotropic activity in the foregut and for effects on cell proliferation or loss in primary cultures of larval Heliothis virescens midgut cells and in a cell line derived from the last-instar larval fat body of Mamestra brassicae. Some fractions stimulated midgut stem cell proliferation and differentiation, while others caused loss of differentiated columnar and goblet cells. Other fractions stimulated cell proliferation in the larval fat body cells.
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Vol. 37 • No. 6