Comparison of Bombyx mori and Helicoverpa armigera cytoplasmic actin genes provides clues to the evolution of actin genes in insects. (1/2405)

The cytoplasmic actin genes BmA3 and BmA4 of Bombyx mori were found clustered in a single genomic clone in the same orientation. As a similar clustering of the two cytoplasmic actin genes Ha3a and Ha3b also occurs in another lepidopteran, Helicoverpa armigera, we analyzed the sequence of the pair of genes from each species. Due to the high conservation of cytoplasmic actins, the coding sequence of the four genes was easily aligned, allowing the detection of similarities in noncoding exon and intron sequences as well as in flanking sequences. All four genes exhibited a conserved intron inserted in codon 117, an original position not encountered in other species. It can thus be postulated that all of these genes derived from a common ancestral gene carrying this intron after a single event of insertion. The comparison of the four genes revealed that the genes of B. mori and H. armigera are related in two different ways: the coding sequence and the intron that interrupts it are more similar between paralogous genes within each species than between orthologous genes of the two species. In contrast, the other (noncoding) regions exhibited the greatest similarity between a gene of one species and a gene of the other species, defining two pairs of orthologous genes, BmA3 and HaA3a on one hand and BmA4 and HaA3b on the other. However, in each species, the very high similarities of the coding sequence and of the single intron that interrupts it strongly suggest that gene conversion events have homogenized this part of the sequence. As the divergence of the B. mori genes was higher than that of the H. armigera genes, we postulated that the gene conversion occurred earlier in the B. mori lineage. This leads us to hypothesize that gene conversion could also be responsible for the original transfer of the common intron to the second gene copy before the divergence of the B. mori and H. armigera lineages.  (+info)

Properties of 5-aminolaevulinate synthetase and its relationship to microsomal mixed-function oxidation in the southern armyworm (Spodoptera eridania). (2/2405)

1. Activity of 5-aminolaevulinate synthetase was measured in the midgut and other tissues of the last larval instar of the southern armyworm (Spodoptera eridania Cramer, formerly Prodenia eridania Cramer). 2. Optimum conditions for measuring the activity were established with respect to all variables involved and considerable differences from those reported for mammalian enzyme preparations were found. 3. Maximum activity (20 nmol/h per mg of protein) occurs 18-24 h after the fifth moult and thereafter decreases to trace amounts as the larvae age and approach pupation. 4. Synthetase activity was rapidly induced by oral administration (in the diet) of pentamethylbenzene, phenobarbital, diethyl 1,4-dihydro-2,4,6-trimethylpyridine-3, 5-dicarboxylate, and 2-allyl-2-isopropylacetamide. 5. Puromycin inhibited the induction of synthetase by pentamethylbenzene. 6. Induction of 5-aminolaevulinate synthetase correlated well with the induction of microsomal N-demethylation of p-chloro-N-methylaniline, except for phenobarbital, which induced the microsomal oxidase relatively more than the synthetase.  (+info)

Overexpression of the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Cry2Aa2 protein in chloroplasts confers resistance to plants against susceptible and Bt-resistant insects. (3/2405)

Evolving levels of resistance in insects to the bioinsecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can be dramatically reduced through the genetic engineering of chloroplasts in plants. When transgenic tobacco leaves expressing Cry2Aa2 protoxin in chloroplasts were fed to susceptible, Cry1A-resistant (20,000- to 40,000-fold) and Cry2Aa2-resistant (330- to 393-fold) tobacco budworm Heliothis virescens, cotton bollworm Helicoverpa zea, and the beet armyworm Spodoptera exigua, 100% mortality was observed against all insect species and strains. Cry2Aa2 was chosen for this study because of its toxicity to many economically important insect pests, relatively low levels of cross-resistance against Cry1A-resistant insects, and its expression as a protoxin instead of a toxin because of its relatively small size (65 kDa). Southern blot analysis confirmed stable integration of cry2Aa2 into all of the chloroplast genomes (5, 000-10,000 copies per cell) of transgenic plants. Transformed tobacco leaves expressed Cry2Aa2 protoxin at levels between 2% and 3% of total soluble protein, 20- to 30-fold higher levels than current commercial nuclear transgenic plants. These results suggest that plants expressing high levels of a nonhomologous Bt protein should be able to overcome or at the very least, significantly delay, broad spectrum Bt-resistance development in the field.  (+info)

Central processing of pulsed pheromone signals by antennal lobe neurons in the male moth Agrotis segetum. (4/2405)

Male moths use female-produced pheromones as orientation cues during the mate-finding process. In addition to the needs of evaluating the quality and quantity of the pheromone signal, the male moth also needs to resolve the filamentous structure of the pheromone plume to proceed toward the releasing point successfully. To understand how a discontinuous olfactory signal is processed at the central level, we used intracellular recording methods to characterize the response patterns of antennal lobe (AL) neurons to pulsatile stimulation with the full female-produced pheromone blend and its single components in male turnip moths, Agrotis segetum. Air puffs delivered at frequencies of 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 Hz were used to carry the stimulus. Two types of AL neurons were characterized according to their capabilities to resolve stimulus pulses. The most common type could resolve at least 1-Hz pulses, thus termed fast neurons; another type could not resolve any pulses, thus termed slow neurons. When fast neurons were excited by stimuli, they always displayed biphasic response patterns, a depolarization phase followed by a hyperpolarization phase. This pattern could be evoked by stimulation with both the single pheromone components and the blend. The pulse-resolving capability of the fast neurons correlated significantly with the size of the hyperpolarization phase. When the amplitude was higher and the fall time of the hyperpolarization faster, the neuron could follow more pulses per second. Moreover, interactions between different pheromone components eliciting different response patterns did not improve the pulse-resolving capability of fast neurons.  (+info)

Integrative model for binding of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins in susceptible and resistant larvae of the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella). (5/2405)

Insecticidal crystal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis in sprays and transgenic crops are extremely useful for environmentally sound pest management, but their long-term efficacy is threatened by evolution of resistance by target pests. The diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) is the first insect to evolve resistance to B. thuringiensis in open-field populations. The only known mechanism of resistance to B. thuringiensis in the diamondback moth is reduced binding of toxin to midgut binding sites. In the present work we analyzed competitive binding of B. thuringiensis toxins Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, and Cry1F to brush border membrane vesicles from larval midguts in a susceptible strain and in resistant strains from the Philippines, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Based on the results, we propose a model for binding of B. thuringiensis crystal proteins in susceptible larvae with two binding sites for Cry1Aa, one of which is shared with Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, and Cry1F. Our results show that the common binding site is altered in each of the three resistant strains. In the strain from the Philippines, the alteration reduced binding of Cry1Ab but did not affect binding of the other crystal proteins. In the resistant strains from Hawaii and Pennsylvania, the alteration affected binding of Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, and Cry1F. Previously reported evidence that a single mutation can confer resistance to Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, and Cry1F corresponds to expectations based on the binding model. However, the following two other observations do not: the mutation in the Philippines strain affected binding of only Cry1Ab, and one mutation was sufficient for resistance to Cry1Aa. The imperfect correspondence between the model and observations suggests that reduced binding is not the only mechanism of resistance in the diamondback moth and that some, but not all, patterns of resistance and cross-resistance can be predicted correctly from the results of competitive binding analyses of susceptible strains.  (+info)

Isolation and characterization of RNA polymerase B from the larval fat body of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. (6/2405)

DNA-dependent RNA polymerase B has been extensively purified from the larval fat body of the tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) by employing chromatography on ion-exchange columns of DEAE-Sephadex, DEAE-cellulose and phosphocellulose and centrifugation on glycerol gradients. The isolated enzyme after electrophoresis on acrylamide gels shows one main band and one minor band, both having enzyme activity sensitive to alpha-amanitin. The catalytic and physicochemical properties of the enzyme are similar to those of other eucaryotic B-type RNA polymerases. The enzyme has an apparent molecular weight of 530000, is inhibited 50% by alpha-amanitin at 0.04 microgram/ml and shows maximum activity on denatured DNA at 5 mM Mn2+ and 100 mM ammonium sulfate. An antibody was obtained that cross-reacts with the pure enzyme and forms a precipitin line. This antibody does not cross react with either Escherichia coli RNA polymerase or with wheat germ RNA polymerase but does react with one of the B polymerases isolated from wing tissue of the silkmoth, Antheraea pernyi.  (+info)

Analysis of human lymphotropic T-cell virus type II-like particle production by recombinant baculovirus-infected insect cells. (7/2405)

The molecular processes involved in retrovirus assembly and budding formation remain poorly understood. The gag-pro-pol genes of human lymphotropic T-cell virus type II (HTLV-II) are translated into Gag, Gag-Pro, or Gag-Pro-Pol by frameshift events. In the present study, we investigated the roles of the gag, pro, and pol regions of HTLV-II in viral particle formation using recombinant baculoviruses. In this study we could successfully produce mature HTLV-II viral particles containing core structures using a construct expressing the entire gag-pro-pol region. We also investigated the role of the pol region in particle formation. Deletion of the pol region affects viral particle assembly or release very little, indicating that the gag-pro region is sufficient for viral particle formation and maturation. Expression of the Gag proteins alone or Gag proteins with inactivated viral proteases (Pro) resulted in the formation of viral particles; however, these particles did not contain core structures. These results suggest the intracellular expression of Gag with Pro of HTLV-II is essential for the production of mature virus particles, whereas that of Pol is not.  (+info)

Inverse relationship between systemic resistance of plants to microorganisms and to insect herbivory. (8/2405)

Pre-inoculation of plants with a pathogen that induces necrosis leads to the development of systemic acquired resistance (SAR) to subsequent pathogen attack [1]. The phenylpropanoid-derived compound salicylic acid (SA) is necessary for the full expression of both local resistance and SAR [2] [3]. A separate signaling pathway involving jasmonic acid (JA) is involved in systemic responses to wounding and insect herbivory [4] [5]. There is evidence both supporting and opposing the idea of cross-protection against microbial pathogens and insect herbivores [6] [7]. This is a controversial area because pharmacological experiments point to negative cross-talk between responses to systemic pathogens and responses to wounding [8] [9] [10], although this has not been demonstrated functionally in vivo. Here, we report that reducing phenylpropanoid biosynthesis by silencing the expression of phenylalanine ammonialyase (PAL) reduces SAR to tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), whereas overexpression of PAL enhances SAR. Tobacco plants with reduced SAR exhibited more effective grazing-induced systemic resistance to larvae of Heliothis virescens, but larval resistance was reduced in plants with elevated phenylpropanoid levels. Furthermore, genetic modification of components involved in phenylpropanoid synthesis revealed an inverse relationship between SA and JA levels. These results demonstrate phenylpropanoid-mediated cross-talk in vivo between microbially induced and herbivore-induced pathways of systemic resistance.  (+info)