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Digestion in insects: a molecular, cellular, physiological and evolutive approach

Grant number: 07/50320-0
Support Opportunities:Research Projects - Thematic Grants
Duration: January 01, 2008 - April 30, 2012
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Biochemistry - Enzymology
Principal Investigator:Walter Ribeiro Terra
Grantee:Walter Ribeiro Terra
Host Institution: Instituto de Química (IQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Pesquisadores principais:
Clelia Ferreira Terra


The digestive tube of insects is an interface barely protected from the environment. Thus, an understanding of the intestinal function is essential for the development of new methods of control acting through the intestine, such as the use of transgenetic plants to control phytophage insects. The development of the sector is undergoing an expansion of the understanding of the molecular events underlying the physiological intestinal phenomena, which requires knowledge of the digestive enzymes in structural detail, as well as the proteins associated with other intestinal functions such as: transporters, receptors, pumps, proteins related to the mechanism of secretions, etc. The present project tackles all the aspects mentioned within the main subdivisions: a) study of the most important digestive enzymes, with emphasis on the uncovering of the specificities and 3D structures; b) intestinal molecular physiology with the identification of the relevant proteins associated with the functions mentioned, principally if linked to the apical microvilli; c) description of the molecular bases of the different mechanisms of intestinal secretion of enzymes, favoring the identification of proteins involved in the fusion of membranes, transport of vesicles and cytoskeleton. The studies will be conducted with insect models, using enzymological, proteomic and transcriptomic techniques with which the laboratory is already familiar. (AU)

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