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J Insect Physiol. 2007 Nov;53(11):1188-97. Epub 2007 Jun 21.

The role of N-beta-alanyldopamine synthase in the innate immune response of two insects.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, FCEyN, University of Buenos Aires, IIBBA-CONICET and Fundación Instituto Leloir, Patricias Argentinas 435, Buenos Aires 1405, Argentina.


Insects trigger a multifaceted innate immune response to fight microbial infections. We show that in the yellow mealworm, Tenebrio molitor, septic injuries induce the synthesis of N-beta-alanyldopamine (NBAD), which is known as the main sclerotization precursor of insect brown cuticles. We demonstrate that NBAD synthase is induced in the epidermis of the mealworm and of the Medfly, Ceratitis capitata, by infection with Escherichia coli. Our results indicate that synthesis of NBAD seems to be a novel component of the overall innate immune response in insects.

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