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DOI: 10.1101/2023.05.21.541668

Expression, activity, and consequences of biochemical inhibition of α- and β-glucosidases in different life stages of Culex quinquefasciatus

E.Burgess N. D. Sanscrainte C. E. Taylor L. J. Buss A. S. Estep
Mosquitoes utilize a plethora of digestive enzymes to meet the challenge of both requisite blood and sugar meals that enable them to survive and reproduce. Sugar meals, typically derived from plant sources, are critical to maintain energy in both male and female mosquitoes, whereas blood meals are taken only by females to complete oogenesis. Enzymes involved in sugar digestion have been the subject of study for decades but have been limited to a relatively narrow range of mosquito species. The southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, is of public health importance and seldom considered in these types of studies outside of topics related to Bacillus sphaericus, a biocontrol agent that requires interaction with a specific gut-associated -glucosidase. Here we sought to describe the nature of -glucosidases and the unexplored {beta}-glucosidases that may aid Cx. quinquefasciatus larvae in acquiring nutrients from cellulosic sources in their aquatic environments. Consistent with our hypothesis, we found both - and {beta}-glucosidase activity in larvae. Interestingly, {beta}-glucosidase activity all but disappeared at the pupal stage and remained low in adults, while -glucosidase activity remained in the pupal stage and then exceeded larval activity by approximately 1.5-fold. Expression of the putative - and {beta}-glucosidase genes chosen did not generally follow the trends seen in enzyme activities. When the -glucosidase inhibitor acarbose was administered to adults, mortality was seen especially in males but also in females after two days of exposure and key energetic storage molecules, glycogen and lipids, were significantly lower than controls. In contrast, administering the -glucosidase inhibitor conduritol {beta}-epoxide to larvae did not produce mortality even at the highest soluble concentration. Here we provide insights into the importance of - and {beta}-glucosidases on the survival of Cx. quinquefasciatus in their three mobile life stages.