The pro-phenoloxidase of coleopteran insect, Tenebrio molitor, larvae was activated during cell clump/cell adhesion of insect cellular defense reactions. (1/140)

To characterize the proteins involved in cell clump/cell adhesion of insect cellular defense reactions, we induced the cell clump/cell adhesion reaction in vitro with the hemolymph of larvae of the coleopteran insect, Tenebrio molitor. The 72 kDa protein was specifically enriched in the residues of cell clump/cell adhesion and was purified to homogeneity. A cDNA clone for the 72 kDa protein was isolated. We found that the 72 kDa protein was an activated phenoloxidase from Tenebrio pro-phenoloxidase. We suggest that activated phenoloxidase is involved in the cell clump/cell adhesion reaction as well as in the synthesis of melanin.  (+info)

Passive exchanges during water vapour absorption in mealworms (Tenebrio molitor): a new approach to studying the phenomenon. (2/140)

The weights of single mealworms were continuously recorded at 20 degrees C during exposure to periods of constant humidity and to abrupt changes in atmospheric vapour pressure. Two exchange stages were recognized in each animal. Weight changes were either limited to slow losses, suggesting transpiration through the external cuticle, or showed more rapid humidity-dependent gains as well as losses. Rapid exchanges indicated that water was gained or lost through permeable barriers, from a fluid compartmet of significantly lower vapour pressure than the haemolymph, equivalent to about 90% R.H. Weight gains and losses during humidity changes provided evidence of a significant, passively exchanging fluid compartment located between the exchange surface and absorbing mechanism. Weight changes in faecal pellets following their elimination provide further support for a rectal site of atmospheric absorption.  (+info)

An 86 kDa diapause protein 1-like protein is a component of early-staged encapsulation-relating proteins in coleopteran insect, Tenebrio molitor larvae. (3/140)

Recently, we reported two novel early-staged encapsulation-relating proteins (56 kDa and 48 kDa ERPs) isolated from the hemolymph of coleopteran insect, Tenebrio molitor larvae [Cho et al. (1999) Eur. J. Biochem. (in press)]. Here, a cDNA clone for another early-staged encapsulation-relating protein (86 kDa) was isolated. We found that the 86 kDa protein shows high homology with insect diapause protein 1. The 86 kDa protein was localized in the fat body and hemolymph, but not hemocyte lysate. A significant level of 86 kDa protein was detected in pre-pupae stage, but it decreased rapidly at late larvae and pupae, and no protein was found in embryo, early larvae and adult stages. This diapause protein 1-like protein is likely to be a component of early-staged encapsulation-relating proteins in the insect cellular defense reaction.  (+info)

Molecular cloning and functional properties of two early-stage encapsulation-relating proteins from the coleopteran insect, Tenebrio molitor larvae. (4/140)

Encapsulation is a major defensive reaction against foreign materials that are too large to be phagocytosed by individual hemocytes; however, the biochemical process of encapsulation is still obscure. To isolate and characterize the early-stage encapsulation-relating protein (ERP), we used the coleopteran insect, Tenebrio molitor larvae, injecting three differing kinds of bead or inserting pieces of surgical suture into the abdomen of T. molitor larvae. The resulting proteins from the injected beads or the inserted pieces of surgical suture were recovered 10 min after injection or insertion, and were analyzed on SDS/PAGE under reducing conditions. Four different proteins (86, 78, 56 and 48 kDa) were enriched compared with the crude hemolymph. Among them, we purified 56-kDa and 48-kDa ERPs to homogeneity and raised polyclonal antibodies against each protein. Immunoblotting analysis showed that the affinity-purified antibodies of the 56-kDa and 48-kDa ERPs cross-reacted with the 48-kDa and 56-kDa ERPs, respectively. Analysis of the cDNA of 56-kDa ERP consisted of 579 amino acid residues and showed a novel glutamine-rich protein. Positive clones of the 48-kDa ERP showed the same DNA sequence as 56-kDa ERP. Interestingly, the chemically determined N-terminal amino acid sequence and the three partial amino acid sequences of the 48-kDa protein were found in the 56-kDa ERP, suggesting that the 48 kDa ERP was produced by the cleavage of Arg101-Gly102 of the 56-kDa ERP by a limited proteolysis. Western blotting analysis showed that these ERPs were detected exclusively on membrane fractions of hemocytes. Also, when the early-stage encapsulated beads were coated with both the 56-kDa and 48-kDa ERP antibodies and re-injected into larvae, no further encapsulation reaction was observed. However, when the early-stage encapsulated beads were incubated with 56-kDa ERP antibody, 48-kDa ERP antibody or nonimmunized rabbit IgG and re-injected into larvae, further encapsulation did occur.  (+info)

Structure-function studies of omega-atracotoxin, a potent antagonist of insect voltage-gated calcium channels. (5/140)

The omega-atracotoxins are a family of 36 to 37-residue peptide neurotoxins that block insect but not mammalian voltage-gated calcium channels. The high phylogenetic specificity of these toxins recommends them as lead compounds for targeting insects that have developed resistance to chemical pesticides. We have begun to examine structure-function relationships in the omega-atracotoxins in order to explore the molecular basis of their activity and phylogenetic specificity. By probing the venom of the Blue Mountains funnel-web spider, Hadronyche versuta, for insecticidal toxins with masses close to that of omega-atracotoxin-Hv1a (omega-ACTX-Hv1a), we have isolated and sequenced five additional omega-atracotoxins. Five of the six omega-atracotoxins isolated from the venom of H. versuta (omega-ACTX-Hv1a to -Hv1e) differ from one another by only 1-3 residues and have similar insecticidal potencies. In contrast, omega-ACTX-Hv1f differs from the other toxins by up to 10 residues and it has markedly reduced insecticidal potency, thus providing information on key functional residues. The new atracotoxin sequences have revealed that the three N-terminal residues are highly conserved. Despite the fact that these residues are structurally disordered in solution we show here, by a series of N-terminal truncations, that they contribute significantly to insecticidal potency. However, loss of activity does not correlate with deletion of highly conserved residues, which leads us to propose that the disposition of the N-terminal charge, rather than the chemical properties of the N-terminal residues themselves, may be critical for the activity of omega-atracotoxin on insect calcium channels.  (+info)

Specific inhibition of insect alpha-amylases: yellow meal worm alpha-amylase in complex with the amaranth alpha-amylase inhibitor at 2.0 A resolution. (6/140)

BACKGROUND: alpha-Amylases constitute a family of enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of alpha-D-(1,4)-glucan linkages in starch and related polysaccharides. The Amaranth alpha-amylase inhibitor (AAI) specifically inhibits alpha-amylases from insects, but not from mammalian sources. AAI is the smallest proteinaceous alpha-amylase inhibitor described so far and has no known homologs in the sequence databases. Its mode of inhibition of alpha-amylases was unknown until now. RESULTS: The crystal structure of yellow meal worm alpha-amylase (TMA) in complex with AAI was determined at 2.0 A resolution. The overall fold of AAI, its three-stranded twisted beta sheet and the topology of its disulfide bonds identify it as a knottin-like protein. The inhibitor binds into the active-site groove of TMA, blocking the central four sugar-binding subsites. Residues from two AAI segments target the active-site residues of TMA. A comparison of the TMA-AAI complex with a modeled complex between porcine pancreatic alpha-amylase (PPA) and AAI identified six hydrogen bonds that can be formed only in the TMA-AAI complex. CONCLUSIONS: The binding of AAI to TMA presents a new inhibition mode for alpha-amylases. Due to its unique specificity towards insect alpha-amylases, AAI might represent a valuable tool for protecting crop plants from predatory insects. The close structural homology between AAI and 'knottins' opens new perspectives for the engineering of various novel activities onto the small scaffold of this group of proteins.  (+info)

Cloning and characterization of new orphan nuclear receptors and their developmental profiles during Tenebrio metamorphosis. (7/140)

Five PCR fragments corresponding to a part of the DNA-binding domain of different hormone nuclear receptors were isolated from Tenebrio molitor mRNAs. The sequence identity of three of them with known Drosophila nuclear receptors strongly suggests that they are the Tenebrio orthologs of seven-up, DHR3 and beta-FTZ-F1, and thus named Tmsvp, TmHR3 and TmFTZ-F1. The full-length sequences of the other two were established. TmHR78 is either a new receptor of the DHR78 family or the same gene which has evolved rapidly, particularly in the E domain. TmGRF belongs to the GCNF1 family and its in vitro translated product binds to the extended half site TCAAGGTCA with high affinity. The periods of expression of the corresponding transcripts in epidermal cells during Tenebrio metamorphosis were analyzed as a function of 20-hydroxyecdysone titers measured in the hemolymph of the animals taken for RNA extraction. Comparison of the expression profiles of these nuclear receptors with those observed during Drosophila metamorphosis revealed similar temporal correlations as a function of ecdysteroid variations, which further supported the sequence identity data for TmSVP, TmHR3, TmFTZ-F1 and TmHR78.  (+info)

Density-dependent prophylaxis in the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor L. (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae): cuticular melanization is an indicator of investment in immunity. (8/140)

If there are costs involved with the maintenance of pathogen resistance, then higher investment in this trait is expected when the risk of pathogenesis is high. One situation in which the risk of pathogenesis is elevated is at increased conspecific density. This paper reports the results of a study of density-dependent polyphenism in pathogen resistance and immune function in the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor. Beetles reared at high larval densities showed lower mortality when exposed to a generalist entomopathogenic fungus and a higher degree of cuticular melanization than those reared solitarily. The degree of cuticular melanization was a strong indicator of resistance, with darker beetles being more resistant than lighter ones regardless of rearing density. No differences were found between rearing densities in the levels of phenoloxidase, an enzyme key to the insect immune response. The results show that pathogen resistance is phenotypically plastic in T. molitor, suggesting that the maintenance of this trait is costly.  (+info)