A Database for Insect Neuropeptide Research

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Insect Neuropeptides - Corazonin


Corazonin was first identified in 1989 from extract of the corpora cadiaca of the American cockroach, Periplaneta Americana (Veenstra, 1989). The peptide was isolated based on its ability to stimulate heart contractions. The first corazonin-encoding gene was cloned from Drosophila melanogaster (Veenstra, 1994). Corazonin has now been identified in several other invertebrates; however, it has been lost in Tribolium castaneum, Acyrthosiphon pisum, Caenorhabditis elegans and vertebrates (Hauser and Grimmelikhuijzen, 2014). The corazonin prepropeptide and the mature peptide are structurally similar to the insect adipokinetic hormones and are now widely considered to have a common evolutionary origin. All insect corazonin peptides have an N-terminal pyroglutamate and a C-terminal amide and its sequence is well conserved among insects (pQTFQYSRGWTNamide in most). Structure-activity relationship studies for corazonin indicate that the whole peptide sequence and not a specific active-core is important for its biological activity (Tanaka et al, 2003; Yerushalmi et al, 2002). The first corazonin receptor (GPCR) was identified in D. melanogaster (Park et al, 2002).


Corazonin distribution has been mapped in several insects. In adult D. melanogaster and other insects, corazonin is expressed in sets of protocerebral neurosecretory cells, with axon terminations in corpora cardiaca and anterior aorta (Lee et al, 2008). Corazonin is also expressed in interneurons of the ventral nerve cord in the D. melanogaster larva; however, these cells undergo apoptosis in the newly-eclosed adult.


Corazonin regulates diverse physiological effects in different insects, both as a hormone and as a central neuromodulator. It has quite diverse functions including initiating ecdysis in moths, affecting locust gregarization, coordinating sperm transfer in fruit flies, and playing roles in stress responses (Kim et al, 2004; Tawfik et al, 1999; Tayler et al, 2012; Verlinden, et al 2009; Zhao et al, 2010).

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Suggested Reviews

  • Boerjan, B., Verleyen, P., Huybrechts, J., Schoofs, L., De Loof, A., 2010. In search for a common denominator for the diverse functions of arthropod corazonin: A role in the physiology of stress? Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 166, 222–233.
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  • Hauser, F., Grimmelikhuijzen, C.J.P., 2014. Evolution of the AKH/corazonin/ACP/GnRH receptor superfamily and their ligands in the Protostomia. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 209, 35–49.
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  • Nässel, D.R., Winther, Å.M.E., 2010. Drosophila neuropeptides in regulation of physiology and behavior. Prog. Neurobiol. 92, 42–104.
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  • Veenstra, J. a., 2009. Does corazonin signal nutritional stress in insects? Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 39, 755–762.
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  • Hauser, F., Grimmelikhuijzen, C.J.P., 2014. Evolution of the AKH/corazonin/ACP/GnRH receptor superfamily and their ligands in the Protostomia. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol.
  • Kim, Y.-J., Spalovská-Valachová, I., Cho, K.-H., Zitnanova, I., Park, Y., Adams, M.E., Zitnan, D., 2004. Corazonin receptor signaling in ecdysis initiation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 101, 6704–6709.
  • Lee, G., Kim, K.M., Kikuno, K., Wang, Z., Choi, Y.J., Park, J.H., 2008. Developmental regulation and functions of the expression of the neuropeptide corazonin in Drosophila melanogaster. Cell Tissue Res. 331, 659–673.
  • Park, Y., Kim, Y.-J., Adams, M.E., 2002. Identification of G protein-coupled receptors for Drosophila PRXamide peptides, CCAP, corazonin, and AKH supports a theory of ligand-receptor coevolution. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 99, 11423–11428.
  • Tanaka, Y., Ishibashi, J., Tanaka, S., 2003. Comparison of structure – activity relations of corazonin using two different bioassay systems 24, 837–844.
  • Tawfik, a I., Tanaka, S., De Loof, a, Schoofs, L., Baggerman, G., Waelkens, E., Derua, R., Milner, Y., Yerushalmi, Y., Pener, M.P., 1999. Identification of the gregarization-associated dark-pigmentotropin in locusts through an albino mutant. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 96, 7083–7087.
  • Tayler, T.D., Pacheco, D. a, Hergarden, A.C., Murthy, M., Anderson, D.J., 2012. A neuropeptide circuit that coordinates sperm transfer and copulation duration in Drosophila. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 109, 20697–702.
  • Veenstra, J.A., 1989. Isolation and structure of corazonin, a cardioactive peptide from the American cockroach. FEBS Lett. 250, 231–234.
  • Veenstra, J.A., 1994. Isolation and structure of the Drosophila corazonin gene. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 204, 292-296.
  • Verlinden, H., Badisco, L., Marchal, E., Van Wielendaele, P., Vanden Broeck, J., 2009. Endocrinology of reproduction and phase transition in locusts. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 162, 79–92.
  • Yerushalmi, Y., Bhargava, K., Gilon, C., Pener, M.P., 2002. Structure-activity relations of the dark-colour-inducing neurohormone of locusts. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 32, 909–917.
  • Zhao, Y., Bretz, C.A., Hawksworth, S.A., Hirsh, J., and Johnson, E.C. (2010). Corazonin neurons function in sexually dimorphic circuitry that shape behavioral responses to stress in Drosophila. PLoS ONE 5, e9141.