RH 5849, a Nonsteroidal Ecdysone Agonist: Effects on Larval Lepidoptera

Science  22 Jul 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4864, pp. 470-472
DOI: 10.1126/science.241.4864.470


The ecdysone agonist RH 5849 (1,2-dibenzoyl-1-tert-butylhydrazine) causes the premature initiation of molting at all stages of larval development of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. This phenomenon occurs without an increase in the endogenous ecdysone (20-hydroxyecdysone) titers. RH 5849 likewise provokes the initiation of molting in larval abdomens in the absence of a source of endogenous hormone. Although substantially less active than 20-hydroxyecdysone in vitro, RH 5849 was 30 to >670 times as active as the authentic molting hormone in bioassays with isolated larval abdomens or intact hornworms. This reversal in potency can be attributed to the superior transport properties and metabolic stability of RH 5849 relative to 20-hydroxyecdysone. Thus RH 5849 and its analogs are relatively persistent ecdysone agonists that halt feeding in larval lepidoptera by forcing an ultimately lethal, developmentally premature molt.