Author(s): Hogenkamp DG, Arakane Y, Zimoch L, Merzendorfer H, Kramer KJ,
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Chitin, the linear homopolymer of beta-1,4-linked N-acetylglucosamine, is produced by the enzyme chitin synthase (CHS). In general, this insoluble polysaccharide is found in two major extracellular structures in insects, the cuticle that overlays the epidermis and the peritrophic membrane (PM) that lines the midgut. Based on amino acid sequence similarities, insect CHSs are divided into two classes, A and B, and to date no more than two CHS genes have been identified in any single insect species. In species where both CHSs have been identified, one class A CHS and one class B CHS are always present. This finding suggests that these two genes may encode enzymes that synthesize chitin in different epithelial tissues. In our laboratory, we previously characterized transcripts for a class A CHS gene (MsCHS1) from the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. We observed the expression of this gene in the larval epidermis, suggesting that the encoded enzyme functions to synthesize cuticular chitin. In this paper, we characterize a second chitin synthase gene (MsCHS2) belonging to class B and its cDNA from Manduca and show that it is expressed only in the midgut. This cDNA contains an open reading frame of 4575 nucleotides, which encodes a conceptual protein that is 1524 amino acids in length and is predicted to contain 16 transmembrane spans. Northern blot analysis of RNA isolated from anterior, medial, and posterior sections of the midgut from feeding larvae indicate that MsCHS2 is primarily expressed in the anterior midgut, with transcript levels tapering off in the medial and posterior midgut. Analysis of the MsCHS2 gene sequence indicates the absence of an alternate exon in contrast to the MsCHS1 gene, which yields two transcripts, MsCHS1a and MsCHS1b. RT-PCR analysis of the differential expression of these alternately spliced transcripts reveals that both splice variants are present in the epidermis. However, the ratio of the two alternately spliced transcripts varies during development, with MsCHS1a being generally more predominant. Southern blot analysis using a probe specific for CHS indicated that Manduca has only two CHS genes, akin to other insect species. Results from an analysis of expression of both genes in different tissues and developmental times indicate that the MsCHS1 enzyme is used for the synthesis of chitin in the cuticle and tracheae, whereas MsCHS2 is utilized exclusively for the synthesis of PM-associated chitin in the midgut.
This article was published in Insect Biochem Mol Biol
and referenced in Journal of Aquaculture Research & Development