Serine proteases (SPs) are crucial proteolytic enzymes responsible for digestion and other processes including signal transduction and immune responses in insects. Serine protease homologs (SPHs) lack catalytic activity but are involved in innate immunity. This study presents a genome-wide investigation of SPs and SPHs in the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.), a globally-distributed destructive pest of cruciferous crops.
A total of 120 putative SPs and 101 putative SPHs were identified in the P. xylostella genome by bioinformatics analysis. Based on the features of trypsin, 38 SPs were putatively designated as trypsin genes. The distribution, transcription orientation, exon-intron structure and sequence alignments suggested that the majority of trypsin genes evolved from tandem duplications. Among the 221 SP/SPH genes, ten SP and three SPH genes with one or more clip domains were predicted and designated as PxCLIPs. Phylogenetic analysis of CLIPs in P. xylostella, two other Lepidoptera species (Bombyx mori and Manduca sexta), and two more distantly related insects (Drosophila melanogaster and Apis mellifera) showed that seven of the 13 PxCLIPs were clustered with homologs of the Lepidoptera rather than other species. Expression profiling of the P. xylostella SP and SPH genes in different developmental stages and tissues showed diverse expression patterns, suggesting high functional diversity with roles in digestion and development.
This is the first genome-wide investigation on the SP and SPH genes in P. xylostella. The characterized features and profiled expression patterns of the P. xylostella SPs and SPHs suggest their involvement in digestion, development and immunity of this species. Our findings provide a foundation for further research on the functions of this gene family in P. xylostella, and a better understanding of its capacity to rapidly adapt to a wide range of environmental variables including host plants and insecticides.