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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2001 Apr 27;31(6-7):633-44.

Identification of six chymotrypsin cDNAs from larval midguts of Helicoverpa zea and Agrotis ipsilon feeding on the soybean (Kunitz) trypsin inhibitor.

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Department of Entomology, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY 14456, USA.


Lepidopteran insects like Helicoverpa zea and Agrotis ipsilon produce STI-insensitive trypsins in the midgut following ingestion of dietary plant proteinase inhibitors like STI [Broadway, R. M., J. Insect Physiol. 43(9) (1997) 855-874]. In this paper, the effects of dietary STI on a related family of midgut serine proteinases, the chymotrypsins, were investigated. STI-insensitive midgut chymotrypsins were detected in larvae of H. zea and A. ipsilon feeding on diets containing 1% STI while STI-sensitive chymotrypsins were present in larvae feeding on diets containing 0% STI. These chymotrypsins were unaffected by TPCK, a diagnostic inhibitor of mammalian chymotrypsins but were fully inhibited by chymostatin. Four midgut cDNA libraries were constructed from larvae of each species fed either 0% STI or 1% STI diets. Six full-length cDNAs(1) encoding diverse preprochymotrypsins were isolated (three from H. zea and three from A. ipsilon) with certain sequence motifs that set them apart from their mammalian counterparts. Northern blots showed that some chymotrypsin mRNA were detected at higher levels while others were down-regulated when comparing insects reared on 0% STI and 1% STI diets. Southern hybridizations suggested that (like mammals) both species contained several chymotrypsin genes. A full-length chymotrypsin gene(1) from H. zea was sequenced for the first time and the presence of four introns was deduced. A first time comparison of 5' upstream regions(1) from three chymotrypsin genes and two trypsin genes of A. ipsilon indicated the presence of putative TATA boxes and regulatory elements. However a lack of consensus motifs in these upstream regions suggested the likelihood of multiple trans factors for regulation of genes encoding digestive proteinases and a complex response mechanism linked to ingestion of proteinase inhibitors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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