Peritrophic membrane role in enhancing digestive efficiency. Theoretical and experimental models.

Departamento de Bioquímica, Instituto de Química, Universidade de São Paulo, C.P. 26077, 05513-970, São Paulo, Brazil.
Journal of Insect Physiology (Impact Factor: 2.38). 09/2008; 54(10-11):1413-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2008.08.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The peritrophic membrane (PM) is an anatomical structure surrounding the food bolus in most insects. Rejecting the idea that PM has evolved from coating mucus to play the same protective role as it, novel functions were proposed and experimentally tested. The theoretical principles underlying the digestive enzyme recycling mechanism were described and used to develop an algorithm to calculate enzyme distributions along the midgut and to infer secretory and absorptive sites. The activity of a Spodoptera frugiperda microvillar aminopeptidase decreases by 50% if placed in the presence of midgut contents. S. frugiperda trypsin preparations placed into dialysis bags in stirred and unstirred media have activities of 210 and 160%, respectively, over the activities of samples in a test tube. The ectoperitrophic fluid (EF) present in the midgut caeca of Rhynchosciara americana may be collected. If the enzymes restricted to this fluid are assayed in the presence of PM contents (PMC) their activities decrease by at least 58%. The lack of PM caused by calcofluor feeding impairs growth due to an increase in the metabolic cost associated with the conversion of food into body mass. This probably results from an increase in digestive enzyme excretion and useless homeostatic attempt to reestablish destroyed midgut gradients. The experimental models support the view that PM enhances digestive efficiency by: (a) prevention of non-specific binding of undigested material onto cell surface; (b) prevention of excretion by allowing enzyme recycling powered by an ectoperitrophic counterflux of fluid; (c) removal from inside PM of the oligomeric molecules that may inhibit the enzymes involved in initial digestion; (d) restriction of oligomer hydrolases to ectoperitrophic space (ECS) to avoid probable partial inhibition by non-dispersed undigested food. Finally, PM functions are discussed regarding insects feeding on any diet.

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