Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Dr. Fernando G. Noriega

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Lidia Kos

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Matthew DeGennaro

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Kalai Mathee

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Dr. Marten J. Edwards

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


20-Hydroxyecdysone, 20E, Juvenile hormone, JH

Date of Defense



In Aedes aegypti, development and reproduction are regulated by juvenile hormone III (JH). This master regulatory hormone is synthesized by the corpora allata (CA), a pair of endocrine glands with neural connections to the brain. JH titers are largely determined by the rate of biosynthetic activity of the CA and are regulated by inhibitory and stimulatory factors. Like JH, the ecdysteroid 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) is a key hormonal regulator and has been proposed as an allatoregulator in other insects. However, its part in the regulation of JH biosynthesis of mosquitoes was unknown. The specific aims of this dissertation were to (1) evaluate if 20E plays a role in the activation of the late pupal CA and (2) evaluate if 20E plays a role in the reactivation of JH synthesis in blood-fed females.

To this end, we evaluated if 20E could prematurely activate JH biosynthesis in the CA of an early pupa (24h prior to eclosion or -24h). Remarkably, in vitro stimulation with 20E at -24h initiated JH synthesis at a time when transcript levels for most JH biosynthetic enzymes are low. Moreover, the application of 20E correlated with an increase in the enzymatic activity of juvenile hormone acid methyltransferase (JHAMT), a critical enzyme of the biosynthetic pathway. Additionally, separation of the CA from the brain increased JH synthesis. Together, these results indicate that 20E acts as a developmental mediator of CA maturation which overrides an inhibitory effect of the brain.

In our previous aim we demonstrated that 20E mediates activation of the pupal CA which ensures the development of ovarian follicles of the newly emerged female. For mosquitoes, a blood-meal is required to complete vitellogenesis and results in suppression of CA activity. However, the CA must be reactivated to initiate the second gonotrophic cycle. Our findings show that in vitro stimulation with 20E at 24h post blood feeding reactivates the gland. Again, stimulation with the ecdysteroid resulted in increased activity of another key enzyme, farnesal dehydrogenase (FALDH). These results suggest a stimulatory role of 20E on the biosynthetic activity of the CA in the blood fed female.





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