Date of Original Version
Scales are symbolic characteristic of Lepidoptera; however, nothing is known about the contribution of cuticular proteins (CPs) to the complex patterning of lepidopteran scales. This is because scales are resistant to solubilization, thus hindering molecular studies. Here we succeeded in dissolving developing wing scales from Bombyx mori, allowing analysis of their protein composition. We identified a distinctive class of histidine rich (His-rich) CPs (6%–45%) from developing lepidopteran scales by LC-MS/MS. Functional studies using RNAi revealed CPs with different histidine content play distinct and critical roles in constructing the microstructure of the scale surface. Moreover, we successfully synthesized films in vitro by crosslinking a 45% His-rich CP (BmorCPR152) with laccase2 using N-acetyl- dopamine or N-β-alanyl-dopamine as the substrate. This molecular study of scales provides fundamental information about how such a fine microstructure is constructed and insights into the potential application of CPs as new biomaterials.
Liu, J., Chen, Z., Xiao, Y. et al. Lepidopteran wing scales contain abundant cross-linked film-forming histidine-rich cuticular proteins. Commun Biol 4, 491 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-01996-4
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-01996-4
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