Recognition and regulation of metalloproteinase activity in the haemolymph of Galleria mellonella: a new pathway mediating induction of humoral immune responses

J Griesch, M Wedde, A Vilcinskas
Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2000, 30 (6): 461-72
Proteolytic activity released within an organism by wounded tissues or invading pathogens can strongly impair the physiological homeostasis when it remains non-regulated. Thus, an efficient mechanism that enables recognition and inactivation of non-regulated proteolytic activity is essential to limit toxic effects. In larvae of the Greater wax moth Galleria mellonella we discovered that injection of bacterial thermolysin at a sublethal concentration mediates both acquired resistance against a subsequently injected lethal concentration of this metalloproteinase and stimulation of humoral immune response accompanied by the synthesis of an inducible metalloproteinase inhibitor (IMPI) which is released within the haemolymph. In search of a putative mechanism mediating recognition and regulation of released microbial metalloproteinases we determined that thermolysin-mediated hydrolysis of G. mellonella haemolymph proteins in vitro yields small (<3 kDa), heat-stable molecules which were discovered to represent potent elicitors of humoral immune responses when injected into untreated larvae. Obtained results allowed to design a model explaining for the first time regulation of released metalloproteinases within the haemolymph of insects. The determined coherence between regulation of released metalloproteinases by IMPI and the simultaneous induction of antimicrobial proteins provides a new insight into the mechanisms leading to expression of genes in course of humoral immune responses.

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