, Volume 158, Issue 3, pp 291-300

Iron binding proteins and their roles in the tobacco hornworm,Manduca sexta (L.)

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Manduca sexta larvae accumulate large amounts of iron during their larval feeding period. When59Fe was fed to 5th instar larvae, it was evenly distributed among the hemolymph, gut and carcass until the cessation of feeding. By pupation 95% of the labelled iron was found in the fat body. In the adult a significant portion of this iron was found in flight muscle.

Studies of the hemolymph disclosed two ironcontaining proteins. The first was composed of a single polypeptide chain of 80 kD, containing one atom of iron. This protein bound ionic iron in vitro and was able to transfer this iron to ferritin when incubated with fat body in vitro. Therefore, it appeared to serve a transport function. The second protein had a molecular weight of 490 kD with subunits of 24 and 26 kD and contained 220 μg of iron/mg protein. Its chemical and ultrastructural characteristics were those of ferritin. These studies demonstrate the presence of both a transport protein and a unique circulating ferritin inManduca sexta, the latter serving a storage function during development and possibly also a transport function.