Molecular understanding of lepidopteran physiology has revealed that proteases consist of one of the central regulatory/reacting system for insect growth and survival. Among the various proteases, cathepsins are the most crucial cellular proteases, which play vital roles during insect development. In the present review, we have discussed various aspects of the lepidopteran insect cathepsins, emphasizing their roles in processes like development, growth, metamorphosis, apoptosis and immunity. Cathepsins are categorized into different types on the basis of their sequence diversification, leading to variation in structure and catalytic function. Cathepsins exhibit tissue and stage specific expression pattern which is fine-tuned by a delicate balance of expression, compartmentalization, zymogen activation, inhibition by protein inhibitors and degradation. The indispensability of cathepsins as cellular proteases in the above mentioned processes proposes them as novel targets for designing effective and specific insect controlling strategies.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Cathepsin; Cysteine/aspartate protease; Development; Lepidoptera; Pest control; Stress response.
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