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Keywords:

  • mosquito;
  • midgut;
  • chitin;
  • peritrophic matrix;
  • GFAT.

Abstract

Glucosamine:fructose-6-phosphate aminotransferase (GFAT) catalyses the formation of glucosamine 6-phosphate and is the first and rate-limiting enzyme of the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway. The final product of the hexosamine pathway, UDP-N-acetyl glucosamine, is an active precursor of numerous macromolecules containing amino sugars, including chitin in fungi and arthropods. Chitin is one of the essential components of insect cuticle and peritrophic matrix. The peritrophic matrix is produced in the midgut of mosquitoes in response to bloodfeeding, and may affect vector competence by serving as a physical barrier to pathogens. It is hypothesized that GFAT plays a regulatory role in biosynthesis of chitin and peritrophic matrix formation in insects. We cloned and sequenced the GFAT gene (AeGfat-1) and its 5′ regulatory region from Aedes aegypti. There is no intron in AeGfat-1 and there are two potential transcription start sites. AeGfat-1 cDNA is 3.4 kb in length and its putative translation product is 75.4 kDa. The amino acid sequence of GFAT is highly conserved in lower and higher eukaryotes, as well as in bacteria. AeGfat-1 message is constitutively expressed but is gradually up-regulated in the midgut after bloodfeeding. The putative regulatory region of the gene contains the ecdysone response element, E74, and Broad complex motifs, similar to what is found in the glutamine synthetase gene in Ae. aegypti. Results suggest that Ae. aegypti GFAT-1 may have a regulatory role in chitin biosynthesis and peritrophic matrix formation, and probably is under the regulation of ecdysteroids.