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Niwa, Y.S., Niwa, R. (2016). Transcriptional regulation of insect steroid hormone biosynthesis and its role in controlling timing of molting and metamorphosis.  Dev. Growth Differ. 58(1): 94--105.
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The developmental transition from juvenile to adult is often accompanied by many systemic changes in morphology, metabolism, and reproduction. Curiously, both mammalian puberty and insect metamorphosis are triggered by a pulse of steroid hormones, which can harmonize gene expression profiles in the body and thus orchestrate drastic biological changes. However, understanding of how the timing of steroid hormone biosynthesis is regulated at the molecular level is poor. The principal insect steroid hormone, ecdysteroid, is biosynthesized from dietary cholesterol in the specialized endocrine organ called the prothoracic gland. The periodic pulses of ecdysteroid titers determine the timing of molting and metamorphosis. To date, at least nine families of ecdysteroidogenic enzyme genes have been identified. Expression levels of these genes correlate well with ecdysteroid titers, indicating that the transcriptional regulatory network plays a critical role in regulating the ecdysteroid biosynthesis pathway. In this article, we summarize the transcriptional regulation of ecdysteroid biosynthesis. We first describe the development of prothoracic gland cells during Drosophila embryogenesis, and then provide an overview of the transcription factors that act in ecdysteroid biosynthesis and signaling. We also discuss the external signaling pathways that target these transcriptional regulators. Furthermore, we describe conserved and/or diverse aspects of steroid hormone biosynthesis in insect species as well as vertebrates.

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    Dev. Growth Differ.
    Development, Growth and Differentiation
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