Lookup NU author(s): Dr Martin Edwards,
Professor Angharad MR Gatehouse
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Sap-sucking phytophagous insect species of the order Hemiptera have been assumed not to carry out digestive proteolysis, but instead to rely on free amino acids in the phloem and xylem saps for their nutritional requirements. Extracts prepared from isolated guts of rice brown planthopper (Nilaparvata lugens), a homopteran crop pest, were shown to contain protease activity, with hydrolysis of both protein and synthetic peptide substrates being observed. Assays with specific inhibitors suggested that a trypsin-like serine protease was responsible for most of hydrolytic activity against synthetic substrates. A cDNA library was prepared from RNA extracted from N. lugens gut tissue, and screened for protease-encoding sequences. cDNAs for a cathepsin B-like protease and a trypsin-like protease were isolated and fully characterised; the latter exhibits a novel C-terminal region and an unusual activation mechanism, and represents a small gene family. Soya bean Kunitz trypsin inhibitor (SKTI) is an effective inhibitor of protein hydrolysis by N. lugens gut extracts in vitro, explaining why transgenic rice plants expressing this protein are partially resistant to the insect (Mol. Breed. 5 (1999) 1). It is suggested that digestive proteolysis may be widespread in sap-sucking homoptera, and can make a significant contribution to nutrition. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Author(s): Foissac X, Edwards MG, Du JP, Gatehouse AMR, Gatehouse JA
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
ISSN (print): Pergamon
ISSN (electronic): 1879-0240
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