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We provide insights into the secretory pathway of arthropod gland systems by comparing the royal jelly-producing hypopharyngeal glands and the venom-producing glands of the honeybee, Apis mellifera. These glands have different functions and different product release characteristics, but both belong to the class 3 types of insect glands, each being composed of two cells, a secretory cell and a microduct-forming cell. The hypopharyngeal secretory cells possess an extremely elongate tubular invagination that is filled with a cuticular structure, the end-apparatus, anchored against the cell membrane by a conspicuous series of actin rings. In contrast, venom glands have no actin rings, but instead have an actin-rich brush border surrounding the comparatively short and narrow end-apparatus. We relate these cytoskeletal differences to the production system and utilisation of secretions; venom is stored in a reservoir whereas royal jelly and enzymes are produced on demand. Fluorescence-based characterisation of the actin cytoskeleton combined with scanning electron microscopy of the end-apparatus allows for detailed characterisation of the point of secretion release in insect class 3 glands. 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved


Homayoun Kheyri, Bronwen W Cribb, David J Merritt. Comparing the secretory pathway in honeybee venom and hypopharyngeal glands. Arthropod structure & development. 2013 Mar;42(2):107-14

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PMID: 23142089

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