Tachykinin-related peptides (TRPs) are important neuropeptides. Here we show that they affect the insect immune system, especially the cellular response. We also identify and predict the sequence and structure of the tachykinin-related peptide receptor (TRPR) and confirm the presence of expression of gene encoding TRPR on Tenebrio molitor haemocytes. After application of the Tenmo-TRP-7 in T. molitor the number of circulating haemocytes increased and the number of haemocytes participating in phagocytosis of latex beads decreased in a dose- and time-dependent fashion. Also, Tenmo-TRP-7 affects the adhesion ability of haemocytes. Six hours after injection of Tenmo-TRP-7, a decrease of haemocyte surface area was observed under both tested Tenmo-TRP-7 concentrations (10-7 and 10-5 M). The opposite effect was reported 24 h after injection, which indicates that the influence of Tenmo-TRP-7 on modulation of haemocyte behaviour differs at different stages of stress response. Tenmo-TRP-7 application also resulted in increased phenoloxidase activity 6 and 24 h after injection. The assessment of DNA integrity of haemocytes showed that the injection of Tenmo-TRP-7 at 10-7 M led to a decrease in DNA damage compared to control individuals. This effect was only visible 6 h after Tenmo-TRP-7 application. After 24 h, Tenmo-TRP-7 injection increased DNA damage. We also confirmed the expression of immune-related genes in nervous tissue of T. molitor. Transcripts for genes encoding receptors participating in pathogen recognition processes and antimicrobial peptides were detected in T. molitor brain, retrocerebral complex and ventral nerve cord. These results may indicate a role of the insect nervous system in pathogen recognition and modulation of immune response similar to vertebrates. Taken together, our results support the notion that tachykinin-related peptides probably play an important role in the regulation of the insect immune system. Moreover, some resemblances with action of tachykinin-related peptides and substance P showed that insects can be potential model organisms for analysis of hormonal regulation of conserved innate immune mechanisms.
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