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J Biol Chem. 2012 May 11;287(20):16488-98. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.341180. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Fungal ecdysteroid-22-oxidase, a new tool for manipulating ecdysteroid signaling and insect development.

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National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Owashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8634, Japan.


Steroid hormones ecdysteroids regulate varieties of developmental processes in insects. Although the ecdysteroid titer can be increased experimentally with ease, its artificial reduction, although desirable, is very difficult to achieve. Here we characterized the ecdysteroid-inactivating enzyme ecdysteroid-22-oxidase (E22O) from the entomopathogenic fungus Nomuraea rileyi and used it to develop methods for reducing ecdysteroid titer and thereby controlling insect development. K(m) and K(cat) values of the purified E22O for oxidizing ecdysone were 4.4 μM and 8.4/s, respectively, indicating that E22O can inactivate ecdysone more efficiently than other ecdysteroid inactivating enzymes characterized so far. The cloned E22O cDNA encoded a FAD-dependent oxidoreductase. Injection of recombinant E22O into the silkworm Bombyx mori interfered with larval molting and metamorphosis. In the hemolymph of E22O-injected pupae, the titer of hormonally active 20-hydroxyecdysone decreased and concomitantly large amounts of inactive 22-dehydroecdysteroids accumulated. E22O injection also prevented molting of various other insects. In the larvae of the crambid moth Haritalodes basipunctalis, E22O injection induced a diapause-like developmental arrest, which, as in normal diapause, was broken by chilling. Transient expression of the E22O gene by in vivo lipofection effectively decreased the 20-hydroxyecdysone titer and blocked molting in B. mori. Transgenic expression of E22O in Drosophila melanogaster caused embryonic morphological defects, phenotypes of which were very similar to those of the ecdysteroid synthesis deficient mutants. Thus, as the first available simple but versatile tool for reducing the internal ecdysteroid titer, E22O could find use in controlling a broad range of ecdysteroid-associated developmental and physiological phenomena.

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