Seven-up facilitates insect counter-defense by suppressing cathepsin B expression. Academic Article uri icon


  • When challenged by the dietary soybean cysteine protease inhibitor scN, the cowpea bruchid (Callosobruchus maculatus) adapts to the inhibitory effects by readjusting the transcriptome of its digestive system, including the specific activation of a cathepsin B-like cysteine protease CmCatB. To understand the transcriptional regulation of CmCatB, we cloned a portion of its promoter and demonstrated its activity in Drosophila cells using a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter system. EMSAs detected differential DNA-binding activity between nuclear extracts of scN-adapted and -unadapted midguts. Two tandem chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter (COUP) elements were identified in the CmCatB promoter that specifically interacted with a protein factor unique to nuclear extracts of unadapted insect guts, where CmCatB expression was repressed. Seven-up (Svp) is a COUP-TF-related transcription factor that interacted with the COUP responsive element. Polyclonal anti-(mosquito Svp) serum abolished the specific DNA-binding activity in cowpea bruchid midgut extracts, suggesting that the protein factor is an Svp homolog. Subsequent cloning of a cowpea bruchid Svp (CmSvp) indicated that it shares a high degree of amino acid sequence similarity with COUP-TF/Svp orphan nuclear receptor family members from varied species. The protein was more abundant in scN-unadapted insect guts than scN-adapted guts, consistent with the observed DNA-binding activity. Furthermore, CmCatB expression was repressed when CmSvp was transiently expressed in Drosophila cells, most likely through COUP binding. These findings indicate that CmSvp may contribute to insect counter-defense, in part by inhibiting CmCatB expression under normal growth conditions, but releasing the inhibition when insects are challenged by dietary protease inhibitors.

published proceedings

  • FEBS J

author list (cited authors)

  • Ahn, J., Guarino, L. A., & Zhu-Salzman, K.

citation count

  • 18

complete list of authors

  • Ahn, Ji-Eun||Guarino, Linda A||Zhu-Salzman, Keyan

publication date

  • April 2007


published in