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Key Event Title
Decrease, Cuticular chitin content
|Level of Biological Organization|
Key Event Components
Key Event Overview
AOPs Including This Key Event
|AOP Name||Role of event in AOP||Point of Contact||Author Status||OECD Status|
|SAM depletion leading to population decline (2)||KeyEvent||Allie Always (send email)||Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite|
|SAM depletion leading to population decline (1)||KeyEvent||Agnes Aggy (send email)||Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite|
|CHS-1 inhibition leading to mortality||KeyEvent||Brendan Ferreri-Hanberry (send email)||Open for citation & comment||WPHA/WNT Endorsed|
|SUR binding leading to mortality||KeyEvent||Arthur Author (send email)||Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite||Under Development|
Key Event Description
This key event describes the decrease in cuticular chitin content. Chitin is a major part of the arthropod cuticle and therefore also responsible for its integrity (Reynolds 1987; Muthukrishnan et al. 2012). The cuticle is the exoskeleton of arthropods and has manifold functions, it protects organisms from predators, loss of water, acts as a physical barrier against microbial pathogens and provides support for muscular function (Vincent and Wegst 2004). Hence, cuticular chitin is also indispensable for the development of arthropods, as an immaculate cuticle is required for proper molting and therefore also for the growth of an organism.
How It Is Measured or Detected
Several ways to determine cuticular chitin are described in the literature. Some of them are based on the determination of amino sugars after digestion or hydrolysis of chitin. For example, after the digestion of chitin by a bacterial chitinase, the N-Acetylclucosamine (GlcNAc) amount can be determined colorimetrically by a modified Morgan-Elson assay (Reissig et al. 1955; Arakane et al. 2005). Alternatively, one can also quantify glucosamine colorimetrically after deacetylation and hydrolysis of chitin (Lehmann and White 1975; Zhang and Zhu 2006). There also exists an approach based on the detection of fluorescence after staining with calcofluor white. In this assay, no treatment of the samples is necessary, the detection is carried out in homogenates of the respective organisms as calcofluor white directly binds to chitin (Henriques et al. 2020). Chitin can also be quantified using radioactively labelled precursors (e.g. 14C-UDP-GlcNAc) which are incorporated into in vitro cultured integument pieces or into the cuticle of whole organisms (Gijswijt et al. 1979; Turnbull and Howells 1982; Calcott and Fatig 1984; Gelman and Borkovec 1986). Another possibility is to use the non-radioactive assay developed to measure chitin synthase activity (Lucero et al. 2002; Zhang and Yan Zhu 2013). Instead of adding an enzyme extract and chitin precursors to the reaction, one could simply add homogenized chitin containing material to the reaction to quantify its chitin content.
Domain of Applicability
Taxonomic: Effect data for the occurrence of this KE exist from Pieris brassicae, Lucilia cuprina, Bombyx mori, Artemia salina and Ostrinia nubilalis, defining its taxonomic applicability. Most likely, this KE is applicable to the whole phylum of arthropods, as they all rely on chitin as part of their exoskeleton.
Life stage: This KE is applicable for organisms synthesizing chitin in order to grow and develop, namely larval stages of insects and all life stages of crustaceans and arachnids.
Sex: This KE is applicable to all sexes.
Chemical: Substances known decrease the cuticular chitin content are of the family of pyrimidine nucleosides (e.g. polyoxin D and nikkomycin Z) (Gijswijt et al. 1979; Turnbull and Howells 1982; Calcott and Fatig 1984; Zhuo et al. 2014; Osada 2019). There also exists evidence for phthalimides (captan, captafol and folpet) to to decrease the cuticular chitin content in vitro (Gelman and Borkovec 1986). However, as these substances are known to covalently bind to thiol groups in proteins (Lukens and Sisler 1958), it is not clear if the inhibition is due to specific CHS-1 inhibition or due to unspecific protein binding.
Arakane Y, Muthukrishnan S, Kramer KJ, Specht CA, Tomoyasu Y, Lorenzen MD, Kanost M, Beeman RW. 2005. The Tribolium chitin synthase genes TcCHS1 and TcCHS2 are specialized for synthesis of epidermal cuticle and midgut peritrophic matrix. Insect Mol Biol. 14(5):453–463. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2583.2005.00576.x.
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Henriques BS, Garcia ES, Azambuja P, Genta FA. 2020. Determination of Chitin Content in Insects: An Alternate Method Based on Calcofluor Staining. Front Physiol. 11(February):1–10. doi:10.3389/fphys.2020.00117.
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Zhang J, Zhu KY. 2006. Characterization of a chitin synthase cDNA and its increased mRNA level associated with decreased chitin synthesis in Anopheles quadrimaculatus exposed to diflubenzuron. Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 36(9):712–725. doi:10.1016/j.ibmb.2006.06.002.
Zhang X, Yan Zhu K. 2013. Biochemical characterization of chitin synthase activity and inhibition in the African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. Insect Sci. 20(2):158–166. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7917.2012.01568.x.
Zhuo W, Fang Y, Kong L, Li X, Sima Y, Xu S. 2014. Chitin synthase A: A novel epidermal development regulation gene in the larvae of Bombyx mori. Mol Biol Rep. 41(7):4177–4186. doi:10.1007/s11033-014-3288-1.