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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2002 Jul;32(7):777-84.

Dual cellulose-digesting system of the wood-feeding termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki.

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  • 1Division of Environmental Science and Technology, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


The distribution of endo-beta-1,4-glucanase (EG) components in the digestive system of the wood-feeding termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, was investigated by zymogram analysis using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, followed by N-terminal protein sequencing. EG components similar to glycoside hydrolase family (GHF) 9 members were restricted to the salivary glands, the foregut, and the midgut, whereas components similar to GHF7 members were confined to the hindgut where numerous cellulolytic flagellates were harbored. RT-PCR experiments revealed that five GHF9 EG mRNAs (1348 bp) homologous to other termite EGs were expressed in the salivary glands and the midgut. The crude extract prepared from the midgut as well as that from the hindgut produced glucose from crystalline cellulose. These data suggest that C. formosanus has two independent cellulose-digesting systems: one in the midgut where cellulose digestion is accomplished by endogenous cellulases and the other in the hindgut which makes use of other cellulases possibly from symbiotic flagellates.

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