Targeting an antimicrobial effector function in insect immunity as a pest control strategy
Author(s)Raman, Rahul; Sasisekharan, Ram; Bachelet, Ido; Bulmera, Mark S.; Rosengaus, Rebeca B.
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Insect pests such as termites cause damages to crops and man-made structures estimated at over $30 billion per year, imposing a global challenge for the human economy. Here, we report a strategy for compromising insect immunity that might lead to the development of nontoxic, sustainable pest control methods. Gram-negative bacteria binding proteins (GNBPs) are critical for sensing pathogenic infection and triggering effector responses. We report that termite GNBP-2 (tGNBP-2) shows β(1,3)-glucanase effector activity previously unknown in animal immunity and is a pleiotropic pattern recognition receptor and an antimicrobial effector protein. Termites incorporate this protein into the nest building material, where it functions as a nest-embedded sensor that cleaves and releases pathogenic components, priming termites for improved antimicrobial defense. By means of rational design, we present an inexpensive, nontoxic small molecule glycomimetic that blocks tGNBP-2, thus exposing termites in vivo to accelerated infection and death from specific and opportunistic pathogens. Such a molecule, introduced into building materials and agricultural methods, could protect valuable assets from insect pests.
DepartmentHarvard University--MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
United States National Academy of Sciences
Bulmer, Mark S et al. “Targeting an antimicrobial effector function in insect immunity as a pest control strategy.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106.31 (2009): 12652-12657. © 2010 National Academy of Sciences
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