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J Insect Physiol. 2001 Jul;47(7):777-787.

In vitro and in vivo binding of snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis agglutinin; GNA) and jackbean (Canavalia ensiformis; Con A) lectins within tomato moth (Lacanobia oleracea) larvae; mechanisms of insecticidal action.

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Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, YO41 1LZ, York, UK


When fed in semi-artificial diet the lectins from snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis: GNA: mannose-specific) and jackbean (Canavalia ensiformis: Con A: specific for glucose and mannose) were shown to accumulate in vivo in the guts, malpighian tubules and haemolymph of Lacanobia oleracea (tomato moth) larvae. Con A, but not GNA, also accumulated in the fat bodies of lectin-fed larvae. The presence of glycoproteins which bind to both lectins in vitro was confirmed using labelled lectins to probe blots of polypeptides extracted from larval tissues. Immunolocalisation studies revealed a similar pattern of GNA and Con A binding along the digestive tract with binding concentrated in midgut sections. Binding of lectins to microvilli appeared to lead to transport of the proteins into cells of the gut and malpighian tubules. These results suggested that both lectins are able to exert systemic effects via transport from the gut contents to the haemolymph across the gut epithelium. The delivery of GNA and Con A to the haemolymph was shown to be dependent on their functional integrity by feeding larvae diets containing denatured lectins. Con A, but not GNA, was shown to persist in gut and fat body tissue of lectin-fed larvae chased with control diet for three days. Con A also shows more extensive binding to larval tissues in vitro than GNA, and these two factors are suggested to contribute to the higher levels of toxicity shown by Con A, relative to GNA, in previous long term bioassays.

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