Fourth instar larvae of Chironomus thummi were permitted to incorporate labeled amino acids and/or sigma-aminolevulinic acid (sigma-ALA) in vivo and in organ culture. The products secreted into the hemolymph or into the culture medium were examined by acrylamide gel electrophoresis. Nine electrophoretic bands can be resolved as hemoglobins without staining. When gels are sliced for scintillation counting, incorporated amino acids and sigma-ALA are shown to be associated primarily with the same nine hemoglobin bands, suggesting that hemoglobins are assembled and secreted. Staining of gels with Coomassie brilliant blue reveals that there are several bands in addition to the visible hemoglobins. These bands incorporate amino acids, but not sigma-ALA, suggesting that they are non-heme proteins. The results of culturing isolated salivary glands, gut, and fat body demonstrate that the fat body is the major site of hemoglobin synthesis and secretion. Labeled products of the gut represent about 5% of the total hemoglobins produced by the tissues, while no hemoglobins are produced by the salivary glands. Although nine hemoglobins are visibly resolved on gels, labeling techniques reveal as many as 14 hemoglobins. This is the first demonstration of hemoglobin synthesis by specific tissues in culture in an invertebrate.

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