Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp 117–123 | Cite as

Midgut cysteine-proteinase activity in the velvetbean caterpillar (Anticarsia gemmatalis (Hübner))

  • E. G. Mendonça
  • M. G. A. Oliveira
  • L. E. Visôtto
  • R. N. C. Guedes
Original Paper


Proteinase inhibitors are currently targeted as potential insect control agents, but adaptation to proteinase inhibitors is a recognized limitation to such approach requiring the understanding of how phytophagous species can cope with such compounds. The velvetbean caterpillar (Anticarsia gemmatalis) is a key pest of soybean and well-adapted to its host proteinase inhibitors, which is rich in serine-proteinase inhibitors, particularly trypsin-like proteinase inhibitors. As the expression of cysteine proteinases in the midgut of the velvetbean caterpillar is a potential adaptation to circumvent its host defense, we assessed and characterized the digestive cysteine-proteinase activity from velvetbean caterpillars. Significant soluble and membrane-bound proteolytic activity was obtained and was consistent with those of cysteine proteinases based on the substrate and inhibitors used for their characterization. The K m and V max values obtained were 2.35 ± 0.50 mM and 40.89 ± 6.68 nmol min−1 mg−1 for the soluble proteinases and 0.33 ± 0.03 mM and 24.54 ± 0.67 nmol min−1 mg−1 for the membrane-bound proteinases, range of values also consistent with cysteine proteinases. Therefore, the proteolytic activity observed in the velvetbean caterpillar midgut is consistent with that of cysteine proteinases providing preliminary support for the contention of their potential involvement mitigating the negative effects of serine-protease inhibitors in this species.


Digestive proteinases Lepidoptera Noctuidae Proteinase inhibition Proteinase kinetics Adaptation to proteinase inhibitors 



The authors thank the financial support provided by the Minas Gerais State Foundation of Research Aid (FAPEMIG), the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), the CAPES Foundation and the INCT initiative (FAPEMIG-CNPq/MCT). The provision of the initial stock population by EMBRAPA Soja was also greatly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. G. Mendonça
    • 1
  • M. G. A. Oliveira
    • 1
    • 2
  • L. E. Visôtto
    • 3
  • R. N. C. Guedes
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Bioquímica e Biologia MolecularUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia em Interações Planta-PragaUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto de Ciências AgráriasUniversidade Federal de Viçosa, Campus Rio ParanaíbaRio ParanaíbaBrazil
  4. 4.Departamento de EntomologiaUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil

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