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J Venom Res
The Eur J Extracellular Vesicles
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Entomotoxicity of jaburetox: revisiting the neurotoxic mechanisms in insects


J Venom Res 
(2020), Vol 10, 38-44

Published online: 15 September 2020

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Yuri Correia Barreto 1, Maria Eduarda Rosa 1, Ana Paula Zanatta 1, Bruna Trindade Borges 1, Stephen Hyslop 2, Lúcia Helena Vinadé 1, Cháriston André Dal Belo 1*

1 Centro Interdisciplinar de Pesquisa em Biotecnologia (CIPBiotec), Universidade Federal do Pampa (UNIPAMPA), Avenida Antônio Trilha 1847, Campus São Gabriel, São Gabriel 97300-000, RS, Brazil

2 Departamento de Farmacologia, Faculdade de Ciências Médicas, Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), Rua Tessália Vieira de Camargo, 126, Cidade Universitária Zeferino Vaz, 13083-887, Campinas, SP, Brazil

*Correspondence to: Cháriston André Dal Belo, E-mail: charistonbelo@unipampa.edu.br, Tel/Fax: +55 55 3237 0850

Received: 29 May 2020 | Revised: 04 August 2020 | Accepted: 31 August 2020

© Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article, published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0). This license permits non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction of this article, provided the original work is appropriately acknowledged, with correct citation details.


Ureases are metalloenzymes that hydrolyze urea to ammonia and carbamate. The main urease isoforms present in the seeds of Canavalia ensiformis (jack bean urease – JBU and canatoxin) exert a variety of biological activities. The insecticidal activity of JBU is mediated, at least in part, by jaburetox (Jbtx), a recombinant peptide derived from the JBU amino acid sequence. In this article, we review the neurotoxicity of Jbtx in insects. The insecticidal activity of Jbtx has been investigated in a variety of insect orders and species, including Blattodea (the cockroaches Blatella germânica, Nauphoeta cinerea, Periplaneta americana e Phoetalia pallida), Bruchidae (Callosobruchus maculatus – cowpea weevil), Diptera (Aedes aegypti – mosquito), Hemiptera (Dysdercus peruvianus – cotton stainer bug; Oncopeltus fasciatus – large milkweed bug, and the kissing bugs Rhodnius prolixus and Triatoma infestans), Lepidoptera (Spodoptera frugiperda – fall army worm) and Orthoptera (Locusta migratoria – locust). In N. cinerea, the injection of Jbtx induces marked alteration of locomotor and grooming behavior, whereas in T. infestans Jbtx causes leg paralysis, an extension of the proboscis and abnormal antennal movements. Electromyographical analysis showed that Jbtx causes complete neuromuscular blockade in P. pallida. The same treatment in N. cinerea and L. migratoria causes a decrease in the action potential firing rate. Jbtx forms membrane pore-channels compatible with cations in bilipid membranes. A study using B. germanica voltage-gated sodium (Nav1.1) channels that were heterologously expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes correlated the entomotoxicity of Jbtx with the activation of these channels. Taken together, these findings demonstrate the potential of this peptide as a natural pesticide.

KEYWORDS: Behavioral alterations, Canavalia ensiformis, entomotoxicity, jack bean urease, neuromuscular blockade, plant ureases, voltage-gated sodium channel

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