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Proteolytic activation of phenoloxidase (PO) and the cytokine Spätzle during immune responses of insects is mediated by a network of hemolymph serine proteases (HPs) and noncatalytic serine protease homologs (SPHs) and inhibited by serpins. However, integration and conservation of the system and its control mechanisms are not fully understood. Here we present biochemical evidence that PO-catalyzed melanin formation, Spätzle-triggered Toll activation, and induced synthesis of antimicrobial peptides are stimulated via hemolymph (serine) protease 5 (HP5) in Manduca sexta Previous studies have demonstrated a protease cascade pathway in which HP14 activates proHP21; HP21 activates proPAP2 and proPAP3, which then activate proPO in the presence of a complex of SPH1 and SPH2. We found that both HP21 and PAP3 activate proHP5 by cleavage at ESDR176*IIGG. HP5 then cleaves proHP6 at a unique site of LDLH112*ILGG. HP6, an ortholog of Drosophila Persephone, activates both proHP8 and proPAP1. HP8 activates proSpätzle-1, whereas PAP1 cleaves and activates proPO. HP5 is inhibited by Manduca sexta serpin-4, serpin-1A, and serpin-1J to regulate its activity. In summary, we have elucidated the physiological roles of HP5, a CLIPB with unique cleavage specificity (cutting after His) that coordinates immune responses in the caterpillar.


Yang Wang, Fan Yang, Xiaolong Cao, Zhen Zou, Zhiqiang Lu, Michael R Kanost, Haobo Jiang. Hemolymph protease-5 links the melanization and Toll immune pathways in the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2020 Sep 22;117(38):23581-23587

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PMID: 32900946

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