Remodeling of an identified motoneuron during metamorphosis: Hormonal influences on the growth of dendrites and axon terminals

Laura M. Knittel, Karla S. Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


During metamorphosis of the tobacco hawkmoth Manduca sexta, the femoral depressor motoneuron (FeDe MN) undergoes remodeling of its dendrites and motor terminals. Previous studies have established that remodeling of MNs during metamorphosis is mediated by the same hormones that control metamorphosis: the ecdysteroids and juvenile hormone (JH). During the pupal stage, the ecdysteroids promote adult-specific growth of MNs in the absence of JH, but JH or its synthetic mimics can interfere with ecdysteroid-mediated growth if applied during early sensitive periods. Hence, the application of a JH mimic (JHM) either systemically or locally to a target muscle has been used to distinguish those aspects of motor-terminal remodeling that are controlled by ecdysteroid action on the CNS from those that are influenced by ecdysteroid action on the peripheral targets. Here, we have extended the analysis of central and peripheral hormonal influences on MN remodeling by injecting JHM locally into the CNS thus altering the hormonal environment of the FeDe MN soma without altering the hormonal environment of its target muscle. Our results demonstrate that adult dendritic growth and motor-terminal growth can be experimentally uncoupled, suggesting that each is regulated independently. JHM application to the CNS perturbed dendritic growth, but had no measurable impact on motor-terminal growth. Peripheral actions of ecdysteroids, therefore, appear sufficient to promote the development of adult-specific motor terminals but not the development of an adult-specific dendritic arbor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-125
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Dendritic growth
  • Ecdysone
  • Ganglionic fusion
  • Juvenile hormone
  • Manduca sexta
  • Motor-terminal growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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