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Phytopathology. 2005 May;95(5):541-8. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-95-0541.

Spiroplasma citri Spiralin Acts In Vitro as a Lectin Binding to Glycoproteins from Its Insect Vector Circulifer haematoceps.


In order to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying transmission of Spiroplasma citri by the leafhopper Circulifer haematoceps, we screened leafhopper proteins as putative S. citri-binding molecules using a spiroplasma overlay assay of protein blots (Far-western assay). Insect proteins were separated by one- or two-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, blotted, and probed with S. citri proteins. In this in vitro assay, we found that spiroplasma proteins exhibited affinity for seven leafhopper proteins. The interactions between S. citri proteins and insect proteins with molecular masses of 50 and 60 kDa were found to be sugar sensitive. These insect proteins were identified as high mannose N-glycoproteins, which support an interaction of glycoprotein-lectin type with S. citri proteins. Lectin detection in S. citri has revealed only one protein of 24 kDa. Using a leafhopper protein overlay assay on an S. citri protein blot, one spiroplasma protein with a similar molecular mass of 24 kDa was shown to display an insect protein-binding capacity. This protein was identified as the spiralin, which is the most abundant membrane protein of S. citri. Far-western experiments performed with purified spiralin and insect glycoproteins confirmed the binding of spiralin to the insect glycoproteins of 50 and 60 kDa. Thus, the spiralin could play a key role in the transmission of S. citri by mediating spiroplasma adherence to epithelial cells of insect vector gut or salivary gland.

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