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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2012 Jun;42(6):446-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 Mar 20.

Characteristics common to a cytokine family spanning five orders of insects.

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Department of Applied Biological Sciences, Saga University, Honjo-1, Saga 840-8502, Japan.


Growth-blocking peptide (GBP) is a member of an insect cytokine family with diverse functions including growth and immunity controls. Members of this cytokine family have been reported in 15 species of Lepidoptera, and we have recently identified GBP-like peptides in Diptera such as Lucilia cuprina and Drosophila melanogaster, indicating that this peptide family is not specific to Lepidoptera. In order to extend our knowledge of this peptide family, we purified the same family peptide from one of the tenebrionids, Zophobas atratus,(1) isolated its cDNA, and sequenced it. The Z. atratus GBP sequence together with reported sequence data of peptides from the same family enabled us to perform BLAST searches against EST and genome databases of several insect species including Coleoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera, and Hemiptera and identify homologous peptide genes. Here we report conserved structural features in these sequence data. They consist of 19-30 amino acid residues encoded at the C terminus of a 73-152 amino acid precursor and contain the motif C-x(2)-G-x(4,6)-G-x(1,2)-C-[KR], which shares a certain similarity with the motif in the mammalian EGF peptide family. These data indicate that these small cytokines belonging to one family are present in at least five insect orders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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