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Coronatin-2 from the entomopathogenic fungus Conidiobolus coronatus kills Galleria mellonella larvae and incapacitates hemocytes

  • M.I. Boguś (a1) (a2), W. Wieloch (a1) and M. Ligęza-Żuber (a1)


Coronatin-2, a 14.5 kDa protein, was isolated from culture filtrates of the entomopathogenic fungus Conidiobolus coronatus (Costantin) Batko (Entomophthoramycota: Entomophthorales). After LC–MS/MS (liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry) analysis of the tryptic peptide digest of coronatin-2 and a mass spectra database search no orthologs of this protein could be found in fungi. The highest homology was observed to the partial translation elongation factor 1a from Sphaerosporium equinum (protein sequence coverage, 21%), with only one peptide sequence, suggesting that coronatin-2 is a novel fungal protein that has not yet been described. In contrast to coronatin-1, an insecticidal 36 kDa protein, which shows both elastolytic and chitinolytic activity, coronatin-2 showed no enzymatic activity. Addition of coronatin-2 into cultures of hemocytes taken from larvae of Galleria mellonella Linnaeus (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), resulted in progressive disintegration of nets formed by granulocytes and plasmatocytes due to rapid degranulation of granulocytes, extensive vacuolization of plasmatocytes accompanied by cytoplasm expulsion, and cell disintegration. Spherulocytes remained intact, while oenocytes rapidly disintegrated. Coronatin-2 produced 80% mortality when injected into G. mellonella at 5 µg larva−1. Further study is warranted to determine the relevance of the acute toxicity of coronatin-2 and its effects on hemocytes in vitro to virulence of C. coronatus against its hosts.


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