Francislete R Melo

Universidade Católica de Brasília, Brasília, Federal District, Brazil

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Publications (9)24.31 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Wheat alpha-amylase inhibitors represent an important tool in engineering crop plants against bean bruchids. Because Acanthoscelides obtectus is a devastating storage bean insect-pest, we attempted to purify and characterize its gut alpha-amylases, to study their interaction with active proteinaceous inhibitors. Two digestives alpha-amylases (AoA1 and AoA2) were purified from gut larvae, showing molecular masses of 30 and 45 kDa for each one, respectively. The stoichiometry interaction between these alpha-amylases with two wheat inhibitors (0.19 and 0.53) showed a binding complex of 1:1 enzyme:inhibitor. In vivo activities of these inhibitors against A. obtectus were also evaluated using a rich ammonium sulfate inhibitor fraction (F(20)(-)(40)) and purified inhibitors after reversed phase high-performance liquid chromatography columns. Incorporation of three different inhibitor concentrations (0.25, 0.5, and 1.0% w/w) into artificial seeds showed that addition of the purified 0.19 inhibitor at the highest concentration (1.0%) reduced the larval weight by 80%. Similar data were observed when 0.53 inhibitor was incorporated at 0.5%. When the concentration of purified 0.53 was enhanced to 1.0%, no larvae or adult emergence were observed. Our data suggest that these alpha-amylase inhibitors present great potential for use in Phaseolus genetic improvement programs.
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 04/2005; 53(5):1585-90. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alpha-amylase inhibitors have important roles in plant defense mechanisms, particularly against insects, and several of these inhibitors have been expressed in different crops to increase their resistance to particular insects. In this work, we report the cloning and expression of a gene encoding for a new alpha-amylase inhibitor (BIII) from rye (Secale cereale) seeds. The BIII gene contains 354 nucleotides that encode for 118 amino acids sequence. A 313 bp fragment of the gene was expressed in Escherichia coli and resulted in a functional inhibitor that reduced the activity of alpha-amylases of larvae of the coleopteran pests Acanthoscelides obtectus, Zabrotess subfasciatus and Anthonomus grandis. In contrast, the inhibitor did not inhibit the activity of porcine pancreatic alpha-amylase. Although the amino acid sequence of BIII showed high identity with those of bifunctional inhibitors, the recombinant protein was unable to inhibit trypsin-like serine proteinases. The effects of recombinant BIII were evaluated in vivo against A. grandis. When first instar larvae were reared on an artificial diet containing four different concentrations of BIII, a reduction in larval weight and a mortality of 83% were observed at the highest concentration.
    The Protein Journal 03/2005; 24(2):113-23. · 1.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is an important agricultural commodity, which is attacked by several pests such as the cotton boll weevil Anthonomus grandis. Adult A. grandis feed on fruits and leaf petioles, reducing drastically the crop production. The predominance of boll weevil digestive serine proteinases has motivated inhibitor screenings in order to discover new ones with the capability to reduce the digestion process. The present study describes a novel proteinase inhibitor from chickpea seeds (Cicer arietinum L.) and its effects against A. grandis. This inhibitor, named CaTI, was purified by using affinity Red-Sepharose Cl-6B chromatography, followed by reversed-phase HPLC (Vydac C18-TP). SDS-PAGE and MALDI-TOF analyses, showed a unique monomeric protein with a mass of 12,877 Da. Purified CaTI showed significant inhibitory activity against larval cotton boll weevil serine proteinases (78%) and against bovine pancreatic trypsin (73%), when analyzed by fluorimetric assays. Although the molecular mass of CaTI corresponded to alpha-amylase/trypsin bifunctional inhibitors masses, no inhibitory activity against insect and mammalian alpha-amylases was observed. In order to observe CaTI in vivo effects, an inhibitor rich fraction was added to an artificial diet at different concentrations. At 1.5% (w/w), CaTI caused severe development delay, several deformities and a mortality rate of approximately 45%. These results suggested that CaTI could be useful in the production of transgenic cotton plants with enhanced resistance toward cotton boll weevil.
    Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 03/2005; 140(2):313-9. · 2.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The cotton boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis, is an economically important pest of cotton in tropical and subtropical areas of several countries in the Americas, causing severe losses due to their damage in cotton floral buds. Enzymatic assays using gut extracts from larval and adult boll weevil have demonstrated the presence of digestive serine proteinase-like activities. Furthermore, in vitro assays showed that soybean Kunitz trypsin inhibitor (SKTI) was able to inhibit these enzymes. Previously, in vivo effects of black-eyed pea trypsin chymotrypsin inhibitor (BTCI) have been demonstrated towards the boll weevil pest. Here, when neonate larvae were reared on an artificial diet containing SKTI at three different concentrations, a reduction of larval weight of up to 64% was observed for highest SKTI concentration 500 microM. The presence of SKTI caused an increase in mortality and severe deformities of larvae, pupae and adult insects. This work therefore represents the first observation of a Kunitz trypsin inhibitor active in vivo and in vitro against A. grandis. Bioassays suggested that SKTI could be used as a tool in engineering crop plants, which might exhibit increased resistance against cotton boll weevil.
    Phytochemistry 02/2004; 65(1):81-9. · 3.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cysteine proteinases from larvae of the common bean weevil, Acanthoscelides obtectus (Coleoptera: Bruchidae), were isolated by ion exchange affinity chromatography on a CM-Cellulose column and used to select mutant cystatins from a library made with the filamentous M13 phage display system. The library contained variant cystatins derived from the nematode Onchocerca volvulus cystatin through mutagenesis of loop 1, which contains the QVVAG motif that is involved in binding to proteinases. After three rounds of selection, the activity of variant cystatins against papain and cysteine proteinases from A. obtectus was assayed by ELISA. Two different variant cystatins (presenting amino acids DVVSA and NTSSA at positions 65-69) bound to A. obtectus cysteine proteinases more tightly than to papain. In contrast, the wild type had similar affinity for A. obtectus proteinases and for papain. These two selected variants cystatins have greater specificity towards A. obtectus cysteine proteinases than the original sequence and could represent good candidate genes for the production of transgenic plants resistant to this insect pest.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 10/2003; 1651(1-2):146-52. · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Higher plants produce several families of proteins with toxic properties, which act as defense compounds against pests and pathogens. The thionin family represents one family and comprises low molecular mass cysteine-rich proteins, usually basic and distributed in different plant tissues. Here, we report the purification and characterization of a new thionin from cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) with proteinase inhibitory activity. Cowpea thionin inhibits trypsin, but not chymotrypsin, binding with a stoichiometry of 1:1 as shown with the use of mass spectrometry. Previous annotations of thionins as proteinase inhibitors were based on their erroneous identification as homologues of Bowman-Birk family inhibitors. Molecular modeling experiments were used to propose a mode of docking of cowpea thionin with trypsin. Consideration of the dynamic properties of the cowpea thionin was essential to arrive at a model with favorable interface characteristics comparable with structures of trypsin-inhibitor complexes determined by X-ray crystallography. In the final model, Lys11 occupies the S1 specificity pocket of trypsin as part of a canonical style interaction.
    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 09/2002; 48(2):311-9. · 3.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Insect pests and pathogens (fungi, bacteria and viruses) are responsible for severe crop losses. Insects feed directly on the plant tissues, while the pathogens lead to damage or death of the plant. Plants have evolved a certain degree of resistance through the production of defence compounds, which may be aproteic, e.g. antibiotics, alkaloids, terpenes, cyanogenic glucosides or proteic, e.g. chitinases, beta-1,3-glucanases, lectins, arcelins, vicilins, systemins and enzyme inhibitors. The enzyme inhibitors impede digestion through their action on insect gut digestive alpha-amylases and proteinases, which play a key role in the digestion of plant starch and proteins. The natural defences of crop plants may be improved through the use of transgenic technology. Current research in the area focuses particularly on weevils as these are highly dependent on starch for their energy supply. Six different alpha-amylase inhibitor classes, lectin-like, knottin-like, cereal-type, Kunitz-like, gamma-purothionin-like and thaumatin-like could be used in pest control. These classes of inhibitors show remarkable structural variety leading to different modes of inhibition and different specificity profiles against diverse alpha-amylases. Specificity of inhibition is an important issue as the introduced inhibitor must not adversely affect the plant's own alpha-amylases, nor the nutritional value of the crop. Of particular interest are some bifunctional inhibitors with additional favourable properties, such as proteinase inhibitory activity or chitinase activity. The area has benefited from the recent determination of many structures of alpha-amylases, inhibitors and complexes. These structures highlight the remarkable variety in structural modes of alpha-amylase inhibition. The continuing discovery of new classes of alpha-amylase inhibitor ensures that exciting discoveries remain to be made. In this review, we summarize existing knowledge of insect alpha-amylases, plant alpha-amylase inhibitors and their interaction. Positive results recently obtained for transgenic plants and future prospects in the area are reviewed.
    European Journal of Biochemistry 02/2002; 269(2):397-412. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A proteinaceous inhibitor with high activity against papain was found in seeds of the xerophytic algaroba tree (Prosopis julifora). The proteinase inhibitor Pj was purified using Sephacryl S-200 gel filtration followed by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography on a Vidac 18 TP. Inhibitor Pj showed a Mr of 20,000 on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and a Mr of 19.2K by mass spectrometry. The inhibition of papain by the Pj inhibitor was the noncompetitive type, with a Ki value of 0.59 × 10−9 M. The gelatinase activity of papain was strongly inhibited by Pj too. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of the Pj inhibitor showed homology with the N-terminal amino acid sequence of the Kunitz-proteinase inhibitor family. Pj was strongly effective against digestive proteinases from bean weevil Acanthoscelides obtectus and cowpea weevil Callosobruchus maculatus and was moderately active toward midgut proteinases from pod weevil Mimosestes mimosae and Mexican bean weevil Zabrotes subfasciatus. The data shown here suggest that the protein present in algaroba seeds is involved with defense responses to insects and may be an important tool to be used in engineering plants resistant to bean weevils.
    Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology. 01/2002;
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    ABSTRACT: Plant alpha-amylase inhibitors show great potential as tools to engineer resistance of crop plants against pests. Their possible use is, however, complicated by observed variations in specificity of enzyme inhibition, even within closely related families of inhibitors. Five alpha-amylase inhibitors of the structural 0.19 family were isolated from wheat kernels, and assayed against three insect alpha-amylases and porcine pancreatic alpha-amylase, revealing several intriguing differences in inhibition profiles, even between proteins sharing sequence identity of up to 98%. Inhibition of the enzyme from a commercially important pest, the bean weevil Acanthoscelides obtectus, is observed for the first time. Using the crystal structure of an insect alpha-amylase in complex with a structurally related inhibitor, models were constructed and refined of insect and human alpha-amylases bound to 0.19 inhibitor. Four key questions posed by the differences in biochemical behaviour between the five inhibitors were successfully explained using these models. Residue size and charge, loop lengths, and the conformational effects of a Cys to Pro mutation, were among the factors responsible for observed differences in specificity. The improved structural understanding of the bases for the 0.19 structural family inhibitor specificity reported here may prove useful in the future for the rational design of inhibitors possessing altered inhibition characteristics.
    European Journal of Biochemistry 05/2000; 267(8):2166-73. · 3.58 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

323 Citations
24.31 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2005
    • Universidade Católica de Brasília
      Brasília, Federal District, Brazil
  • 2002
    • University of Brasília
      • Departamento de Biologia Celular (CEL)
      Brasília, Distrito Federal, Brazil
    • Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA)
      Brasília, Federal District, Brazil