Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Biological Control of Insects Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #318873

Title: A novel calcium-independent cellular PLA2 acts in insect immunity and larval growth

item PARK, YONGIN - Andong National University
item KUMAR, SUNIL - Andong National University
item KANUMURI, RAHUL - Andong National University
item Stanley, David
item KIM, YONGGYUN - Andong National University

Submitted to: Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/25/2015
Publication Date: 9/30/2015
Citation: Park, Y., Kumar, S., Kanumuri, R., Stanley, D.W., Kim, Y. 2015. A novel calcium-independent cellular PLA2 acts in insect immunity and larval growth. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 66 (2015) 13-23.

Interpretive Summary: Application of classical insecticides has introduced severe problems in agricultural sustainability. The concept of biological control of insects is a potentially powerful alternative to classical insecticides. Biological control is based on the idea that direct application of insect-specific pathogens and parasites can reduce pest insect populations and the economic damage due to pest insects. The problem, however, is the efficiency of these organisms in biological control programs is limited by insect immune defense reactions to challenge. One approach to improving the efficiency of biocontrol agents would be to somehow disable insect immune reactions to viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections. With this goal, we are investigating how insect immune reactions to infection are signaled. In this paper we report on identification of a novel insect enzyme responsible for stimulating insect defenses to infection. This new research will be directly useful to scientists who are working to improve the efficacy of biological control methods. The ensuing improved biological control methods will benefit a wide range of agricultural producers by supporting the long-term sustainability of agriculture.

Technical Abstract: Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) catalyzes the position-specific hydrolysis of fatty acids linked to the sn-2 position of phospholipids (PLs). PLA2s make up a very large superfamily, with more than known 15 groups, classified into secretory PLA2 (sPLA2), Ca2+-dependent cellular PLA2 (sPLA2), and Ca2+-independent cellular PLA2 (iPLA2). Only a few insect sPLA2s, expressed in venom glands and immune tissues, have been characterized at the molecular level. This study aimed to test our hypothesis that insects express iPLA2, using the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua, our model insect. Substantial PLA2 activities under calcium-free condition were recorded in several larval tissue preparations. The PLA2 activity was significantly reduced in reactions conducted in the presence of a specific iPLA2 inhibitor, bromoenol lactone (BEL). Analysis of a S. exigua hemocyte transcriptome identified a candidate iPLA2 gene (SeiPLA2-A). The open reading frame encoded 816 amino acid residues with a predicted molecular weight of 90.5 kDa and 6.15 pI value. Our phylogenetic analysis clustered SeiPLA2-A with the other vertebrate iPLA2s. SeiPLA2-A was expressed in all tissues we examined, including hemocytes, fat body, midgut, salivary glands, Malpighian tubules and epidermis. Heterologous expression in Sf9 cells indicated that SeiPLA2-A was localized in cytoplasm and exhibited significant PLA2 activity, which was independent of Ca2+ and inhibited by BEL. RNA interference (RNAi) of SeiPLA2-A using its specific dsRNA in the fifth instar larvae significantly suppressed iPLA2 expression and enzyme activity. dsSeiPLA2-A-treated larvae exhibited significant loss of cellular immune response, measured as nodule formation in response to bacterial challenge, and extended larval-to-pupal developmental time. These results support our hypothesis, showing that SeiPLA2-A predicted from the transcriptome analysis catalyzes hydrolysis of fatty acids from cellular PLs and plays crucial physiological roles in insect immunity and development.