Cysteine proteinases predominate in the midgut fluid (MF) and oral secretion (OS) of adult western corn rootworm (WCR) based on their mild acidic pH optima (pH 6.0), enhanced activities after treatment with thiol reducing agents, and inhibition by selective cysteine proteinase inhibitors (PIs). Four cysteine Pls including E-64, calpeptin, calpain inhibitor II, and leupeptin (also a serine PI) strongly inhibited azocaseinolytic activity in a dose-dependent manner in both the MF and OS. The most significant effect on adult female WCR of cysteine PI consumption with corn pollen was the reduction in fecundity, but female survival was not apparently affected. Mean fresh weights for all PI-fed females were also lower than control groups. All PI-fed groups [E-64, calpain inhibitor I (Cal I) and leupeptin] had a significantly lower daily egg production than respective corn pollen-fed controls. E-64 was more potent than leupeptin and Cal I on inhibiting fecundity, which correlates with their relative anti-proteinase potency in vitro. E-64, Cal I, and leupeptin at 1.5-2 nmol/beetle/day reduced fecundity down to 25-45% of control values. Reduced egg production by PI-fed beetles results from a combination of the direct inhibition of protein digestion and a post-ingestive negative feedback mechanism, which reduces food intake. The supplement of ten essential amino acids into the E-64-treated pollen enhanced up to 3.7-fold the number of eggs laid compared to the E-64-fed group without these amino acids, suggesting that egg production is dependent on the supply of essential amino acids from corn pollen proteolysis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science