, Volume 52, Issue 5, pp 433-439

The regulation of trehalose metabolism in insects

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Abstract

Trehalose is a non-reducing disaccharide comprising two glucose molecules. It is present in high concentration as the main haemolymph (blood) sugar in insects. The synthesis of trehalose in the fat body (an organ analogous in function to a combination of liver and adipose tissue in vertebrates) is stimulated by neuropeptides (hypertrehalosaemic hormones), released from the corpora cardiaca, a neurohaemal organ associated with the brain. The peptides cause a decrease in the content of fructose 2,6-bisphosphate in fat body cells. Fructose 2,6-bisphosphate, acting synergistically with AMP, is a potent activator of the glycolytic enzyme 6-phosphofructokinase-1 and a strong inhibitor of the gluconeogenic enzyme fructose 1,6-bisphosphatase. This indicates that fructose 2,6-bisphosphate is a key metabolic signal in the regulation of trehalose synthesis in insects. Trehalose is hydrolysed by trehalase (E.C. 3.2.1.28). The activity of this enzyme is regulated in flight muscle, but the mechanism by which this is achieved is unknown. Trehalase from locust, flight muscle is a glycoprotein bound to membranes of the microsomal fraction. The enzyme can be activated by detergents in vitro and by short flight intervals in vivo, which indicates that changes in the membrane environment modulate trehalase activity under physiological conditions.