Evaluation of Aib and PEG-polymer insect kinin analogs on mosquito and tick GPCRs identifies potent new pest management tools with potentially enhanced biostability and bioavailability. Academic Article uri icon


  • Insect kinins modulate aspects of diuresis, digestion, development, and sugar taste perception in tarsi and labellar sensilla in mosquitoes. They are, however, subject to rapid biological degradation by endogenous invertebrate peptidases. A series of -aminoisobutyric (Aib) acid-containing insect kinin analogs incorporating sequences native to the Aedes aegypti mosquito aedeskinins were evaluated on two recombinant kinin invertebrate receptors stably expressed in cell lines, discovering a number of highly potent and biostable insect kinin mimics. On the Ae. aegypti mosquito kinin receptor, three highly potent, biostable Aib analogs matched the activity of the Aib-containing biostable insect kinin analog 1728, which previously showed disruptive and/or aversive activity in aphid, mosquito and kissing bug. These three analogs are IK-Aib-19 ([Aib]FY[Aib]WGa, EC50=18nM), IK-Aib-12 (pQKFY[Aib]WGa, EC50=23nM) and IK-Aib-20 ([Aib]FH[Aib]WGa, EC50=28nM). On the Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus tick receptor, IK-Aib-20 ([Aib]FH[Aib]WGa, EC50=2nM) is more potent than 1728 by a factor of 3. Seven other potentially biostable analogs exhibited an EC50 range of 5-10nM, all of which match the potency of 1728. Among the multi-Aib hexapeptide kinin analogs tested the tick receptor has a preference for the positively-charged, aromatic H over the aromatic residues Y and F in the X1 variable position ([Aib]FX1[Aib]WGa), whereas the mosquito receptor does not distinguish between them. In contrast, in a mono-Aib pentapeptide analog framework (FX1[Aib]WGa), both receptors exhibit a preference for Y over H in the variable position. Among analogs incorporating polyethylene glycol (PEG) polymer attachments at the N-terminus that can confer enhanced bioavailability and biostability, three matched or surpassed the potency of a positive control peptide. On the tick receptor IK-PEG-9 (P8-R[Aib]FF[Aib]WGa) was the most potent. Two others, IK-PEG-8 (P8-RFFPWGa) and IK-PEG-6 (P4-RFFPWGa), were most potent on the mosquito receptor, with the first surpassing the activity of the positive control peptide. These analogs and others in the IK-Aib series expand the toolbox of potent analogs accessible to invertebrate endocrinologists studying the structural requirements for bioactivity and the as yet unknown role of the insect kinins in ticks. They may contribute to the development of selective, environmentally friendly pest arthropod control agents.

published proceedings

  • Gen Comp Endocrinol

author list (cited authors)

  • Xiong, C., Kaczmarek, K., Zabrocki, J., Pietrantonio, P. V., & Nachman, R. J.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Xiong, Caixing||Kaczmarek, Krzysztof||Zabrocki, Janusz||Pietrantonio, Patricia V||Nachman, Ronald J

publication date

  • July 2019