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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Sep;35(9):1005-20.

Diversity of trypsins in the Mediterranean corn borer Sesamia nonagrioides (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), revealed by nucleic acid sequences and enzyme purification.

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  • 1Dpto. Biología de Plantas, Laboratorio de Interacciones Planta-Insecto, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas-C.S.I.C., Ramiro de Maeztu 9, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


The existence of a diverse trypsin gene family with a main role in the proteolytic digestion process has been proved in vertebrate and invertebrate organisms. In lepidopteran insects, a diversity of trypsin-like genes expressed in midgut has also been identified. Genomic DNA and cDNA trypsin-like sequences expressed in the Mediterranean corn Borer (MCB), Sesamia nonagrioides, midgut are reported in this paper. A phylogenetic analysis revealed that at least three types of trypsin-like enzymes putatively involved in digestion are conserved in MCB and other lepidopteran species. As expected, a diversity of sequences has been found, including four type-I (two subtypes), four type-II (two subtypes) and one type-III. In parallel, four different trypsins have been purified from midgut lumen of late instar MCB larvae. N-terminal sequencing and mass spectrometric analyses of purified trypsins have been performed in order to identify cDNAs coding for major trypsins among the diversity of trypsin-like sequences obtained. Thus, it is revealed that the four purified trypsins in MCB belong to the three well-defined phylogenetic groups of trypsin-like sequences detected in Lepidoptera. Major active trypsins present in late instar MCB lumen guts are trypsin-I (type-I), trypsin-IIA and trypsin-IIB (type-II), and trypsin-III (type-III). Trypsin-I, trypsin-IIA and trypsin-III showed preference for Arg over Lys, but responded differently to proteinaceous or synthetic inhibitors. As full-length cDNA clones coding for the purified trypsins were available, three-dimensional protein models were built in order to study the implication of specific residues on their response to inhibitors. Thus, it is predicted that Arg73, conserved in type-I lepidopteran trypsins, may favour reversible inhibition by the E-64. Indeed, the substitution of Val213Cys, unique for type-II lepidopteran trypsins, may be responsible for their specific inhibition by HgCl2. The implication of these results on the optimisation of the use of protease inhibitors for pest control, and on the identification of endoprotease-mediated resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis Cry-toxins is discussed.

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