Sexually transmitted chemical defense in a moth (Utetheisa ornatrix). (1/131)

The arctiid moth Utetheisa ornatrix is protected against predation by pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) that it sequesters as a larva from its food plant. Earlier work had shown that males transmit PA to the female with the sperm package and that the female bestows part of this gift on the eggs, protecting these against predation as a result. We now show that the female herself derives protection from the gift. Females deficient in PA are vulnerable to predation from spiders (Lycosa ceratiola and Nephila clavipes). If mated with a PA-laden male, the females become unacceptable as prey. The effect takes hold promptly and endures; females are unacceptable to spiders virtually from the moment they uncouple from the male and remain unacceptable as they age. Chemical data showed that the female allocates the received PA quickly to all body parts. We predict that other instances will be found of female insects being rendered invulnerable by receipt of sexually transmitted chemicals.  (+info)

Alkaloid binding and activation of D2 dopamine receptors in cell culture. (2/131)

Ergot and pyrrolizidine alkaloids, either extracted from endophyte-infected tall fescue, synthesized, or purchased commercially, were evaluated in cultured cells to estimate their binding to the D2 dopamine receptor and subsequent effects on cyclic AMP production in GH4ZR7 cells, transfected with a rat D2 dopamine receptor. Ergopeptide alkaloid (alpha-ergocryptine, bromocryptine, ergotamine tartrate, and ergovaline) inhibition of the binding of the D2-specific radioligand, [3H]YM-09151-2, exhibited inhibition constants (K(I)) in the nanomolar range, whereas dopamine was less potent (micromolar). The lysergic acid amides (ergine and ergonovine) were 1/100th as potent as the ergopeptide alkaloids. Ergovaline and ergotamine tartrate were equally effective in inhibiting vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)-stimulated cyclic AMP production, with consistent nanomolar effective concentration (EC50) values. The remaining ergopeptide alkaloids (alpha-ergocryptine and bromocryptine), lysergic acid amides (ergonovine and ergine), and dopamine were 1/100th as potent. Two representative pyrrolizidines, N-formylloline and N-acetylloline, exhibited no binding activity at the D2 dopamine receptor or effects on the cyclic AMP system within the concentration ranges of nanomolar to millimolar. Our results indicate that the commercially available ergot alkaloids ergotamine tartrate and ergonovine may be used interchangeably in the D2 dopamine receptor system to simulate the effects of extracted ergovaline and ergine and to examine responses in receptor binding and the inhibition of cyclic AMP.  (+info)

Homospermidine synthase, the first pathway-specific enzyme of pyrrolizidine alkaloid biosynthesis, evolved from deoxyhypusine synthase. (3/131)

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are preformed plant defense compounds with sporadic phylogenetic distribution. They are thought to have evolved in response to the selective pressure of herbivory. The first pathway-specific intermediate of these alkaloids is the rare polyamine homospermidine, which is synthesized by homospermidine synthase (HSS). The HSS gene from Senecio vernalis was cloned and shown to be derived from the deoxyhypusine synthase (DHS) gene, which is highly conserved among all eukaryotes and archaebacteria. DHS catalyzes the first step in the activation of translation initiation factor 5A (eIF5A), which is essential for eukaryotic cell proliferation and which acts as a cofactor of the HIV-1 Rev regulatory protein. Sequence comparison provides direct evidence for the evolutionary recruitment of an essential gene of primary metabolism (DHS) for the origin of the committing step (HSS) in the biosynthesis of pyrrolizidine alkaloids.  (+info)

Female choice increases offspring fitness in an arctiid moth (Utetheisa ornatrix). (4/131)

In Utetheisa ornatrix (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae), the female mates preferentially with larger males. Having a larger father results in the eggs being more richly endowed with defensive pyrrolizidine alkaloid (which the female receives from the male with the sperm package, in quantity proportional to the male's body mass, and passes on to the eggs); having a larger father also results in the sons and daughters themselves being larger (body mass is heritable in Utetheisa). We provide evidence herein that these consequences enhance the fitness of the offspring. Eggs sired by larger males are less vulnerable to predation (presumably because of their higher alkaloid content), whereas sons and daughters, by virtue of being larger, are, respectively, more successful in courtship and more fecund. The female Utetheisa, therefore, by being choosy, reaps both direct phenotypic and indirect genetic benefits.  (+info)

Liver regeneration in rats with retrorsine-induced hepatocellular injury proceeds through a novel cellular response. (5/131)

The adult rodent liver contains at least two recognized populations of cells with stem-like properties that contribute to liver repair/regeneration under different pathophysiological circumstances: (i) unipotential committed progenitor cells (differentiated hepatocytes and biliary epithelial cells) and (ii) multipotential nonparenchymal progenitor cells (oval cells). In retrorsine-induced hepatocellular injury the capacity of fully differentiated rat hepatocytes to replicate is severely impaired and massive proliferation of oval cells does not occur. Nevertheless, retrorsine-exposed rats can replace their entire liver mass after 2/3 surgical partial hepatectomy through the emergence and expansion of a population of small hepatocyte-like progenitor cells that expresses phenotypic characteristics of fetal hepatoblasts, oval cells, and fully differentiated hepatocytes, but differ distinctly from each type of cell. The activation, proliferation, and complete regeneration of normal liver structure from small hepatocyte-like progenitor cells have not been recognized in other models of liver injury characterized by impaired hepatocyte replication. We suggest that the selective emergence and expansion of small hepatocyte-like progenitor cells observed in the retrorsine model reflect a novel mechanism of complete liver regeneration in the adult rat. Furthermore, we suggest that these cells may represent a novel progenitor cell population that (i) responds to liver deficit when the replication capacity of differentiated hepatocytes is impaired, (ii) expresses an extensive proliferative capacity, (iii) can give rise to large numbers of progeny hepatocytes, and (iv) can restore tissue mass.  (+info)

Chemical defense against predation in an insect egg. (6/131)

The larva of the green lacewing (Ceraeochrysa cubana) (Neuroptera, Chrysopidae) is a natural predator of eggs of Utetheisa ornatrix (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae), a moth that sequesters pyrrolizidine alkaloids from its larval foodplant (Fabaceae, Crotalaria spp.). Utetheisa eggs are ordinarily endowed with the alkaloid. Alkaloid-free Utetheisa eggs, produced experimentally, are pierced by the larva with its sharp tubular jaws and sucked out. Alkaloid-laden eggs, in contrast, are rejected. When attacking an Utetheisa egg cluster (numbering on average 20 eggs), the larva subjects it to an inspection process. It prods and/or pierces a small number of eggs (on average two to three) and, if these contain alkaloid, it passes "negative judgement" on the remainder of the cluster and turns away. Such generalization on the part of the larva makes sense, because the eggs within clusters differ little in alkaloid content. There is, however, considerable between-cluster variation in egg alkaloid content, so clusters in nature can be expected to range widely in palatability. To check each cluster for acceptability must therefore be adaptive for the larva, just as it must be adaptive for Utetheisa to lay its eggs in large clusters and to apportion alkaloid evenly among eggs of a cluster.  (+info)

New cytotoxic agents, BE-54238A and B, produced by a streptomycete. (7/131)

New cytotoxic substances, designated BE-54238A and B, were isolated from the culture broth of Streptomyces sp. A54238. The active principles were extracted from the mycelium by methanol and purified by Diaion HP-20 and Sephadex LH-20 column chromatographies. BE-54238A and B exhibited cytotoxic activity against murine and human tumor cell lines.  (+info)

Tansy ragwort poisoning in a horse in southern Ontario. (8/131)

Bizarre behavior, apparent lameness, and colic were noticed in 1 of 3 horses on a pasture overgrown by weeds during a drought. Liver failure and hepatoencephalopathy were diagnosed, caused by pyrrolizidine alkaloid toxicosis associated with consumption of tansy ragwort. The horse made a full recovery when removed from the pasture.  (+info)