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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26676. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026676. Epub 2011 Oct 27.

Sialome of a generalist lepidopteran herbivore: identification of transcripts and proteins from Helicoverpa armigera labial salivary glands.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany.


Although the importance of insect saliva in insect-host plant interactions has been acknowledged, there is very limited information on the nature and complexity of the salivary proteome in lepidopteran herbivores. We inspected the labial salivary transcriptome and proteome of Helicoverpa armigera, an important polyphagous pest species. To identify the majority of the salivary proteins we have randomly sequenced 19,389 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from a normalized cDNA library of salivary glands. In parallel, a non-cytosolic enriched protein fraction was obtained from labial salivary glands and subjected to two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and de novo peptide sequencing. This procedure allowed comparison of peptides and EST sequences and enabled us to identify 65 protein spots from the secreted labial saliva 2DE proteome. The mass spectrometry analysis revealed ecdysone, glucose oxidase, fructosidase, carboxyl/cholinesterase and an uncharacterized protein previously detected in H. armigera midgut proteome. Consistently, their corresponding transcripts are among the most abundant in our cDNA library. We did find redundancy of sequence identification of saliva-secreted proteins suggesting multiple isoforms. As expected, we found several enzymes responsible for digestion and plant offense. In addition, we identified non-digestive proteins such as an arginine kinase and abundant proteins of unknown function. This identification of secreted salivary gland proteins allows a more comprehensive understanding of insect feeding and poses new challenges for the elucidation of protein function.

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