Insect trehalase: physiological significance and potential applications

Glycobiology. 2015 Apr;25(4):357-67. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwu125. Epub 2014 Nov 26.


Trehalose, a non-reducing disaccharide, is widespread throughout the biological world. It is the major blood sugar in insects playing a crucial role as an instant source of energy and in dealing with abiotic stresses. The hydrolysis of trehalose is under the enzymatic control of trehalase. The enzyme trehalase is gaining interest in insect physiology as it regulates energy metabolism and glucose generation via trehalose catabolism. The two forms of insect trehalase namely, Tre-1 and Tre-2, are important in energy supply, growth, metamorphosis, stress recovery, chitin synthesis and insect flight. Insect trehalase has not been reviewed in depth and the information available is quite scattered. The present mini review discusses our recent understanding of the regulation, mechanism and biochemical characterization of insect trehalase with respect to its physiological role in vital life functions. We also highlight the molecular and biochemical properties of insect trehalase that makes it amenable to competitive inhibition by most glycosidase inhibitors. Due to its crucial role in carbon metabolism in insects, application of inhibitors against trehalose can form a promising area towards formulating strategies for insect pest control.

Keywords: carbohydrate metabolism; glycosidase inhibitor; glycoside hydrolase; trehalase; trehalose.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Insect Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Insect Proteins / chemistry
  • Insect Proteins / physiology*
  • Insecticides / pharmacology
  • Pest Control
  • Trehalase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Trehalase / chemistry
  • Trehalase / physiology*
  • Trehalose / metabolism


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Insect Proteins
  • Insecticides
  • Trehalose
  • Trehalase