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Insect blood (hemolymph) contains prophenoloxidase, a proenzyme that is activated to protective phenoloxidase when the insect is damaged or challenged with microorganisms. The Gram-negative bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens kills the lepidopteron insect Manduca sexta by using a variety of toxins. We screened P. luminescens and Photorhabdus asymbiotica cosmid libraries in an Escherichia coli host against previously activated M. sexta hemolymph phenoloxidase and identified three overlapping cosmid clones from P. luminescens and five from P. asymbiotica that suppressed the activity of the enzyme both in vitro and in vivo. Genome alignments of cosmid end sequences from both species confirmed that they contained orthologous loci. We examined one of the cosmids from P. luminescens in detail: it induced the formation of significantly fewer melanotic nodules, proliferated faster within the insect host and was significantly more virulent towards fifth-stage larvae than E. coli control bacteria. Insertional mutagenesis of this cosmid yielded 11 transposon mutants that were no longer inhibitory. All of these were insertions into a single 5.5-kb locus, which contained three ORFs and was homologous to the maltodextrin phosphorylase locus of E. coli. The implications of this novel inhibitory factor of insect phenoloxidase for Photorhabdus virulence are discussed.
- Photorhabdus luminescens
- Manduca sexta
- insect immunity
Eleftherianos, I., Waterfield, N. R., Bone, P., Boundy, S., Ffrench-Constant, R. H., & Reynolds, S. E. (2009). A single locus from the entomopathogenic bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens inhibits activated Manduca sexta phenoloxidase. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 293(2), 170-176. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1574-6968.2009.01523.x