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Keywords:

  • DDT;
  • voltage-gated sodium channel;
  • pyrethroid;
  • IIS6 helix;
  • IIS4-S5 linker;
  • computer modelling

Abstract

Naturally derived insecticides such as pyrethrum and man-made insecticides such as DDT and the synthetic pyrethroids act on the voltage-gated sodium channel proteins found in insect nerve-cell membranes. The correct functioning of these channels is essential for the normal transmission of nerve impulses, and this process is disrupted by binding of the insecticides, leading to paralysis and eventual death. Some insect pest populations have evolved modifications of the sodium channel protein that inhibit the binding of the insecticide and result in the insect developing resistance. This perspective outlines the current understanding of the molecular processes underlying target-site resistance to these insecticides (termed kdr and super-kdr), and how this knowledge may in future contribute to the design of novel insecticidal compounds. Copyright © 2008 Society of Chemical Industry