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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Dec;41(12):982-92. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2011.09.007. Epub 2011 Oct 12.

Manduca sexta moricin promoter elements can increase promoter activities of Drosophila melanogaster antimicrobial peptide genes.

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Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics, School of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO 64110, USA.


Insects produce a variety of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Induction of insect AMP genes is regulated by the Toll and IMD (immune deficiency) pathways via NF-κB and GATA factors. Little is known about species-specific regulation of AMP genes. In this report, we showed that activities of most Manduca sexta and Drosophila melanogaster AMP gene promoters were regulated in a species-specific manner in Drosophila (Dipteran) S2 cells and Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidopteran) Sf9 cells. A κB-GATA element (22 bp) from M. sexta moricin (MsMoricin) promoter could significantly increase activities of Drosophila AMP gene promoters in S2 cells, and an MsMoricin promoter activating element (MPAE) (140 bp) could increase activity of drosomycin promoter specifically in Sf9 cells. However, κB and GATA factors alone were not sufficient for MsMoricin gene activation, suggesting that other co-regulators may be required to fully activate AMP genes. Our results suggest that induction of insect AMP genes may require a transcription complex composed of common nuclear factors (such as NF-κB and GATA factors) and species-related co-regulators, and it is the co-regulators that may confer species-specific regulation of AMP genes. In addition, we showed that activity of Drosophila drosomycin promoter could be activated cooperatively by the inserted exogenous κB-GATA element and the endogenous κB element. These findings revealed an approach of engineering AMP genes with enhanced activities, which may lead to broad applications.

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