Archives of insect biochemistry and physiology

A secretory PLA2 associated with tobacco hornworm hemocyte membrane preparations acts in cellular immune reactions.

PMID 16235259


We report on a secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) associated with membrane-enriched fractions prepared from hemocytes of the tobacco hornworms, Manduca sexta. Virtually no PLA2 activity was detected in serum of immunologically naive or bacterially challenged hornworms. PLA2 activity was detected in cytosolic and membrane-enriched fractions prepared from hemocytes. PLA2 activity in the cytosolic fraction (1.2 pmol/mg/h) was approximately 4-fold greater than in the membrane-enriched fraction. The cytosol-associated PLA2 activity was strongly inhibited in reactions conducted in the presence of the specific cytosolic PLA2 inhibitor methylarachidonyl fluorophosphate (MAFP) but not in the presence of the sPLA2 inhibitor p-bromophenacyl bromide (BPB). Conversely, the membrane-associated PLA2 activity was inhibited in reactions conducted in the presence of BPB but not in the presence of MAFP. While the cytosol-associated PLA2 was independent of calcium, the membrane-associated sPLA2 required calcium for full catalytic activity. Hornworms treated with either BPB, MAFP or the glucocorticosteroid dexamethasone were severely impaired (by 50 to 80% relative to controls) in their ability to form nodules in reaction to bacterial challenge. However, the immune-impairing influence of the inhibitors was reversed by treating larvae with arachidonic acid, a precursor for eicosanoid biosynthesis. We infer that the biological significance of the sPLA2 (as well as the previously characterized cytosolic PLA2) relates to hydrolysis of polyunsaturated fatty acids from cellular phospholipids. Moreover, this enzyme may be the target of immunity-impairing factors from the bacterium Xenorhabdus nematophila. The fatty acids serve as precursors for the generation of eicosanoids responsible for mediating and coordinating cellular immune reactions to infection.