Joseph G. Kunkel

SABBATICAL REPORT, September 29 1986.

Physiological Institute, Univesity of Berne, Switzerland, Aug 1985 - Aug 1986.
Laboratory of Beatrice Lanzrein

Having left our Amherst home in the safe keeping of an exchange professor and his family from Hawaii, we left Amherst August 14, 1985. The four of us, my wife Gerda, my sons Peter (15) and David (10) and I flew from Kennedy Intn'l to Zurich and made our way to Berne by train. We took occupancy of a fourth floor three room apartment in the old neighborhood of Breitenrain, about 15 minutes by tram from the University of Bern, Zoological Institute. Our children were placed in Swiss schools and settled into learning to communicate in German. My younger son was placed in an "Ergänzungs" class used to integrate immigrant children into the Swiss school system. My older son, who had three years of German from the Amherst school system, was admitted to the Neufeld Wirtschaft Gymnasium. Both boys played ice hockey for the full year with the SCB (Schlittschuh Club Bern). Gerda studied Bauernmalerei and Berndeutsche. Daily life in the centrel city was classic old world and contrasted sharply with our modern, swift pace in Amherst. The Libyan invasion and the Chernobyl accident were viewed from a neutralist Swiss vantagepoint and our sons learned the value of a good newspaper. But by the end of the year it was hard for us to say goodbye to our new life style.

The science in Beatrice Lanzrein's lab in Bern, planned for my sabbatical had its roots in work that I started at Woods Hole a year earlier which culminated in the novel discovery that there is a strong current of ions flowing out of the dorsal surface and into the ventral surface of the cockroach oocyte (Kunkel, 1986). The magnitude of the current suggested that it must be of great importance to the future of the not yet fertilized egg. My experience with vitellogenesis suggested that this current might play a role in the deposition of viteIlogenin as well as be the force that is imposing the polarity of the future organism on the oocyte. The question of how the future polarity of an organism is determined is a classical as well as a current question of biology, being pursued by embryologists as well as molecular biologists. I picked a laboratory in which to do my sabbatical that was experienced in measuring vitellogenic uptake into single oocytes. The majority of the year was spent in improving their technique for my needs, demonstrating the role of ions in supporting 14-C-Vitellogenin uptake into oocytes and investigating some of the modes of action that the ions may be having (Kunkel, Koenig, Kindle and Lanzrein, 1986, enclosure). I spent about a month in Prof. H.Reuter's laboratory at the Pharmacology Institute of the Inselspital in Berne working with Erwin Siegel on voltage clamping of the cockroach oocyte. We demonstrated a voltage gated calcium channel in the cockroach oocyte and attempted some of the first patch clamping of the oocyte membrane.

During the sabbatical year my University salary was supplemented by a grant from the Roche Foundation. The year also saw the three year renewal of my NSF grant to study viellogenesis, but transferred to the Developmental Biology Section of the NSF. The grant continues our study of the oligosaccharide component of Vitellegenin (with J.Nordin, UMASS Biochemistry) and permits me to pursue the role of ions in the vitellogenic process. A visit of Dave Leonard (UMASS Entomology) with me in Bern paid off with the funding of our proposa! to study the role of larval storage proteins in determining the feeding and dispersal behavior of the next generation of Gypsy Moth, Lymantria dispar. This grant will use my experience with storage protein and multivariate predictive statistics to solve an economically important problem. I had the opportunity to visit a number of universities and observe the problems and advantages of doing research in European laboratories (attached list of seminars delivered). We returned to Amherst on August 12, 1986.


Kunkel JG 1986. Dorsoventral currents are associated with vitellogenesis in cockroach ovarioles. in IONIC CURRENTS IN DEVELOPMENT ed. R NuccitelIi, Alan R Liss Publ.

Kunkel JG, Koenig R, Kindle H and Lanzrein B. 1986. The role of ions in vitellogenesis and patterning in insect oocytes. Advances in Invertebrate Reproduction (in press).

Wojchowski DM, PA Parsons, JH Nordin and JG Kunkel. 1986. Processing of Provitellogenin in Insect Fat Body: a role for High-Mannose Oligosaccharide. Developmental Biol. 116: 422-430.

Duhamel RC and JG Kunkel. 1986. Molting cycle regulation of hemolymph protein clearance in cockroaches: Possible size-dependent mechanism. J. lnsect Physiol. (in press)

Kunkel JG, R Koenig and B Lanzrein. 1986. The role of ions in vitellogenesis and patterning in insect oocytes. IV International Symposium on Invertebrate Reproduction, Lille, France.

Koenig R, JH Nordin and JG Kunkel. 1986. The role of the carbohydrate component in binding of vitellin to oocyte membranes of the German Cockroach, Blattella qermanica. IV International Symposium on Invertebrate Reproduction, Lille, France.


  1. "Multiple vitellogenins: fact and fancy" Zoological lnstitut, U Bern, 10115 Nov. 12, 1985;
  2. "Role of ions in vitellogenesis" Zoologisthen Institut, U.Fribourg (Breisgau) DDR, 14:30 April 16, 1986;
  3. "Role of ions in vitellogenesis" Cell Biology Journal Club, U.Bern, 12:00 April 30, 1986;
  4. "The role of ion currents in vitellogenesis" Institut de Biologie animale, Universite de Lausanne, Switzerland, 11:00 June 16, 1986;
  5. "The role of ion currents in vitellogenesis" Institut de Zoologie, Neuchatel, 8:00 June 23, 1986;
  6. "Vitellogenesis in an Insect Oocyte" Zoological Institut, U. Munich, Munchen, DDR, I7:15 Ju]y 22, 1986;
  7. "Role of Ions in Viteliogenesis and Pattern Formation" Biozentrum, U.Basel, 12130 July 30, 1986;
  8. "The Role of Ions in Vitellogenesis" Zoological Institut, U Bern, 10:15 July 1, 1986.


  1. NSF DCB-8517781 'Role of Oligosaccharide Structure in Vitellogenesis', funded for 3 years 1986-89, $269,000.
  2. USDA 86-CRCR-I-2153 'Gypsy Moth Population Biology: Storage Proteins as Indices of Nutritive Quality Profiles', funded for 2 years 1986-88, $125,000,
  3. Roche Foundation, Sabbatical in Laboratory of B Lanzrein in Bern, Switzerland for 1 year; awarded 29,000 SFr.

Respectfully submitted,

Joseph G. Kunkel, Prof. of Zoology