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, 25 (2), 153-76

Insect Cuticular Proteins


Insect Cuticular Proteins

S O Andersen et al. Insect Biochem Mol Biol.


Insect cuticles are composite structural materials with mechanical properties optimal for their biological functions. The bulk properties of cuticles are to a large extent determined by the interactions between the various components, mainly the chitin filament system and the proteins. The various cuticular types show pronounced differences in mechanical properties, and it is suggested that these differences can be related to the properties of the individual proteins and to the degree of secondary stabilization (sclerotization). The amino acid sequences, which have been obtained for insect cuticular proteins either by direct sequencing of purified proteins or by deduction from corresponding DNA-sequences, are listed according to insect order and species. Extensive sequence similarity is observed among several cuticular proteins obtained from different insect orders. Other cuticular proteins are characterized by repeated occurrence of a few small motifs consisting mainly of hydrophobic residues. The latter group of proteins has so far only been reported from stiff cuticles. The possible relevance of the various motifs and repeats for protein interaction and the mechanical properties of cuticles is discussed.

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