The juvenile hormones (JHs) are sesquiterpenoid compounds that play a central role in insect reproduction, development and behavior. They are synthesized and secreted by a pair of small endocrine glands, the corpora allata (CA), which are intimately connected to the brain. The enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of JH are attractive targets for the control of mosquito populations. This dissertation is a comprehensive functional study of five Aedes aegypti CA enzymes, HMG-CoA synthase (AaHMGS), mevalonate kinase (AaMK), phosphomevalonate kinase (AaPMK), farnesyl diphosphate synthase (AaFPPS) and farnesyl pyrophosphate phosphatase (AaFPPase).
The enzyme AaHMGS catalyzes the condensation of acetoacetyl-CoA and acetyl-CoA to produce HMG-CoA. The enzyme does not require any co-factor, although its activity is enhanced by addition of Mg2+. The enzyme AaMK is a class I mevalonate kinase that catalyzes the ATP-dependent phosphorylation of mevalonic acid to form mevalonate 5-phosphate. Activity of AaMK is inhibited by isoprenoids. The enzyme AaPMK catalyzes the cation-dependent reversible reaction of phosphomevalonate and ATP to form diphosphate mevalonate and ADP. The enzyme AaFPPS catalyzes the condensation of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) to form geranyl diphosphate (GPP) and farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP). The enzyme AaFPPS shows an unusual product regulation mechanism, with chain length final product of 10 or 15 C depending on the metal cofactor present. The enzymes AaFPPase-1 and AaFPPase-2 efficiently hydrolyze FPP into farnesol, although RNAi experiments demonstrate that only AaFPPase-1 is involved in the catalysis of FPP into FOL in the CA of A. aegypti. This dissertation also explored the inhibition of the activity of some of the JH biosynthesis enzymes as tools for insect control. We described the effect of N-acetyl-S-geranylgeranyl-L-cysteine as a potent inhibitor of AaFPPase 1 and AaFPPase-2. In addition, inhibitors of AaMK and AaHMGS were also investigated using purified recombinant proteins.
The present study provides an important contribution to the characterization of recombinant proteins, the analysis of enzyme kinetics and inhibition constants, as well as the understanding of the importance of these five enzymes in the control of JH biosynthesis rates.