Expression of esterases during ontogenesis of the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum (tenebrionidae; coleoptera)

Ephraim Cohen, Eliau Sverdlov, David Wool

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Two electrophoretically fast-migrating, nonspecific esterases were detected in two strains of the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum and designated F (fast) and S (slow) according to their relative migration distances. Both isozymes are associated with the alimentary canal and display ontogenetic changes. Their activity is very low in the egg stage, increases in the larva, and declines dramatically in the pharate pupa and pupa. The overall activity in the pupal stage is low, yet increases gradually throughout this period. In the adult, the activity of the esterases rises sharply. The larval and adult F and S isozymes were found to hydrolyze α- and β-naphthylacetate and α-naphthylpropionate with almost equal capacity. α-Naphthyl laurate was cleaved by the F enzyme of both larvae and adults. The F and S were insensitive to inhibitors of arylesterases and cholinesterases and were markedly inhibited by the organophosphate diisopropylphosphorofluoridate (DFP) and could be classified as carboxylesterases. Differential sensitivities of larval and adult esterases to urea and heat treatment as well as to DFP may indicate the expression of different genes during metamorphosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-264
Number of pages12
JournalBiochemical Genetics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 1977


  • Tribolium castaneum
  • esterase inhibitors
  • esterase isozymes
  • gel electrophoresis


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