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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 23;8(4):e60539. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060539. Print 2013.

Demonstration of cytotoxicity against wasps by pierisin-1: a possible defense factor in the cabbage white butterfly.

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Cancer Prevention Basic Research Project, National Cancer Center Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan.


The cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae, produces pierisin-1, a protein inducing apoptosis of mammalian cells. In the present study, the biological activity of pierisin-1 as a protective agent against parasitic wasps for P. rapae was examined. Pierisin-1 caused detrimental effects on eggs and larvae of non-habitual parasitoids for P. rapae, Glyptapanteles pallipes, Cotesia kariyai and Cotesia plutellae at 1-100 µg/ml, levels essentially equivalent to those found in P. rapae larvae. In contrast, eggs and larvae of the natural parasitoid of P. rapae, Cotesia glomerata proved resistant to the toxicity of pierisin-1 through inhibition of pierisin-1 penetration of the surface layer. The expression level of pierisin-1 mRNA in the larvae of P. rapae was increased by parasitization by C. plutellae, whereas it was decreased by C. glomerata. In addition, C. plutellae was associated with elevation of activated pierisin-1 in the hemolymph. From these observations, it is suggested that pierisin-1 could contribute as a defense factor against parasitization by some type of wasps in P. rapae.

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