Aminopeptidase N1 is involved in Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ac toxicity in the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua
Aminopeptidase N (APN) isoforms in insects have been documented to be involved in the mode of action of insecticidal crystal proteins (Cry) from Bacillus thuringiensis. Here we cloned two novel Seapns from the larval midgut of Spodoptera exigua, a major pest of many crops of economic importance in China. According to a phylogenetic analysis, these two novel SeAPNs, along with the four SeAPN isoforms already described, belong to six different clades. All the six SeAPNs share similar structural features. From N- to C-terminus a signal peptide, a gluzincin aminopeptidase motif, a zinc binding/gluzincin motif, and a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchor sequence are located. The six Seapn genes were highly expressed at the larval stage, especially in the larval gut. Ingestion during four consecutive days of double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) targeting Seapn1, Seapn2, Seapn3, Seapn4, Seapn5 and Seapn6 significantly reduced corresponding mRNA levels by 55.6%, 45.5%, 43.2%, 56.8%, 45.4%, and 46.0% respectively, compared with those recorded in control larvae fed on non-specific dsRNA (dsegfp). When the larvae that previously ingested phosphate buffered saline (PBS)-, dsegfp-, or six dsSeapns-overlaid diets were then exposed to a diet containing Cry1Ca, the larval mortalities were 71.2%, 69.3%, 52.0%, 77.2%, 43.3%, 62.0%, 65.4% and 53.8% respectively recorded after 6days. ANOVA analysis revealed that the larvae previously fed on dsSeapn1-, dsSeapn3-, and dsSeapn6-overlaid diets had significantly lower mortalities than those previously ingested PBS-, dsegfp-, dsSeapn2-, dsSeapn4- and dsSeapn5-overlaid diets. Thus, these results suggest that SeAPN1, SeAPN3 and SeAPN6 may be candidate receptors for Cry1Ca in S. exigua.