Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Breaking Through Insect Shells at a Molecular Level

03.02.2016

With their chitinous shells, insects seem almost invulnerable – but like Achilles’ heel in Greek mythology, their impressive armor can still be attacked. Researchers at the universities of Bonn and Leipzig studied fruit flies (Drosophila) and discovered the molecular processes that are able to break through this protective casing. The enzyme chitinase 2 and growth factor idgf6 are especially important in correctly forming the insects’ shells. These findings are relevant for fighting parasites, and will be published in the professional journal “Scientific Reports.”

The same things that work with fruit flies (Drosophila) – one of developmental biologists’ favorite animals to study – can generally also be applied to other insects. The deactivation of chitinase 2 and/or idgf6 genes results in a fragile shell that does not support adequate protection for larva of fruit flies and very likely other insects such as mosquitos.


Light microscopy image of a live Drosophila that was unable to produce enough growth factor idgf6. Results are defects in the respiratory organ and in the chitinous shell.

Photo: Dr. Matthias Behr

“Pathogens can then easily infiltrate the animals, and they usually die during the larval stage,” says Assistant Professor Dr. Matthias Behr, who transferred from the Life & Medical Sciences (LIMES) Institute at his alma mater in Bonn to the Sächsische Inkubator für die klinische Translation (SIKT) at the University of Leipzig. The project was financed with funding from Special Research Area 645 at the University of Bonn.

The objective: tailor-made inhibitors

... more about:
»Drosophila »chitinase »enzyme »fruit flies »insects

The current discovery offers completely new starting points for keeping agricultural parasites as well as dangerous disease-carrying insects in check. The enzyme chitinase 2 and growth factor idgf6 are essential for shell formation in nearly all insects, as well as in arthropods like crabs and spiders.

“However, there are minor species-related differences that could allow us to develop tailor-made inhibitors that will prevent proper development of the chitinous shell in certain species,” says first author Yanina-Yasmin Pesch from the LIMES Institute at the University of Bonn. Specially developed substances could be used to attack the chitinous covering of one arthropod species while leaving other species unharmed.

Dr. Behr names two examples of possible applications: the spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) that recently migrated to Germany, and the new Zika virus pathogen. The spotted-wing drosophila causes enormous damage for the agricultural industry because it attacks a large volume of ripening fruit. The Zika virus is transmitted to people through mosquito bites. This virus is suspected of causing birth defects in Brazil, among other places. The researchers hope their discovery will make it easier to fight these kinds of dangerous insects in the future.

Supposed degradation enzyme helps build up shells

The researchers from the universities of Bonn and Leipzig, as well as from the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, turned up one other surprising find: “Until now, scientists assumed that chitinase 2 was a degradation enzyme,” reports Pesch. “But surprisingly, it has now been found that the enzyme is essential in forming the chitinous shell.” When the protective casing is being created, chitinase shortens the chitin to the right length. The precisely tailored components are then combined with other materials to build the shell.

As the team of researchers already showed in a previous study, the “Obstructor-A” protein plays a key role here. Like a construction-site manager, it makes sure that various building materials are added to the protective shell in the right places. “Step by step, our research is revealing molecular details about the insects’ Achilles heel,” says Dr. Behr.

Publication: Chitinases and Imaginal disc growth factors organize the extracellular matrix formation at barrier tissues in insects, professional journal “Scientific Reports”

Media contact:

Assistant Professor Dr. Matthias Behr
Sächsischer Inkubator für die klinische Translation (SIKT)
University of Leipzig
Tel. ++49-341-9739584
Email: matthias.behr@uni-leipzig.de

M.Sc. Yanina-Yasmin Pesch
Life & Medical Sciences (LIMES) Institute
University Bonn
Tel. ++49-228-7362713
Email: ypesch@uni-bonn.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep18340 Publication online

Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de/

Further reports about: Drosophila chitinase enzyme fruit flies insects

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>