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Two putative Kunitz-type chymotrypsin inhibitor genes (WCI2 and WCI5) were isolated from winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L.) DC). While WCI2 has previously been characterized, WCI5 represents a new member of the WCI family. WCI5 was exclusively expressed in winged bean seeds. Theoretical translation of both the genes resulted into polypeptides of 207 amino acids with 86% sequence similarity. The polypeptide sequences contain four half-cysteine residues and a well-conserved Leu(65)-Ser(66) reactive site, typical for chymotrypsin inhibitors. WCI5 and WCI2 were expressed in Pichia pastoris and the recombinant proteins were assayed against various proteinases. Both the inhibitors strongly inhibited commercially available bovine chymotrypsin. More importantly, gut proteinases of Helicoverpa armigera larvae that damage many important crop plants, were inhibited by WCI2 and WCI5. In addition, both proteinase inhibitors demonstrated significant reduction of growth of H. armigera larvae after feeding on inhibitor incorporated artificial diets. The inhibitory effects of WCI2 and WCI5 on activity of proteinases and larval growth make these proteins and their genes promising candidates for enhancing plant defense against H. armigera using transgenic plants.


Manasi A Telang, Ashok P Giri, Prashant S Pyati, Vidya S Gupta, Mechthild Tegeder, Vincent R Franceschi. Winged bean chymotrypsin inhibitors retard growth of Helicoverpa armigera. Gene. 2009 Feb 15;431(1-2):80-5

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PMID: 19059315

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