Antifeedant effects of proteinase inhibitors on feeding behaviors of adult western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera)

Jae Hak Kim, Christopher A. Mullin

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13 Scopus citations


Low-molecular-weight peptidyl proteinase inhibitors (PIs) including leupeptin, calpain inhibitor I, and calpeptin were found to be potent antifeedants for adult western corn rootworm (WCR) against the phagostimulation of cucurbitacin B (Cuc B) or a corn pollen extract (CPE). Leupeptin was the strongest (ED50 = 0.36 and 0.55 nmol/disk for Cuc B and CPE, respectively) among PIs tested with an antifeedant potency much stronger than the steroid progesterone (ED50 = 2.29 and 5.05 nmol/disk for Cuc B and CPE, respectively), but slightly less than the reference alkaloid, strychnine (ED50 = 0.17 and 0.37 nmol/disk for Cuc B and CPE, respectively). All active PIs contain a di- or tripeptidyl aldehyde moiety, indicating that PIs exert their antifeedant effects by covalent interaction with putative sulfhydryl (SH) groups on taste receptors as do these PIs with cysteine proteinases. However, opposite inhibition potency against Cuc B versus CPE by two thiol-group reducing agents, DTT and L-cysteine, and the results with other cysteine-modifying reagents obscure the net functional role of SH groups at WCR taste chemoreceptors. Surprisingly, the model phagostimulant for diabroticites, Cuc B, was more easily counteracted by these feeding deterrents than the stimulants present in CPE. Three-dimensional structure-antifeedant relationships for the PIs suggest that a novel taste chemoreception mechanism exists for these peptidyl aldehydes or that they fit partially into a strychnine binding pocket on protein chemoreceptors. Favorable economic benefit may be achieved if PIs are discovered to be useful in adult WCR control, since both pre- and postingestive sites would be targeted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-810
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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