Mating-increases trypsin in female Drosophila hemolymph

Noam Pilpel, Ifat Nezer, Shalom W. Applebaum, Yael Heifetz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Male-derived accessory gland proteins (Acps) are transferred to the female reproductive tract during mating and affect female reproductive maturation and behavior. Some Acps subsequently enter the female hemolymph. We hypothesized that humoral proteases are the primary effectors of Acp bioactivity by processing (activating) and/or degrading them. To test this hypothesis we examined the fate of one Acp, Drosophila melanogaster Sex Peptide (Acp70A, DrmSP), which possesses several putative serine-protease cleavage sites, in hemolymph of unmated and mated females. In D. melanogaster, DrmSP induces post-mating non-receptivity and enhances oogenesis. To determine if serine proteases regulate the duration of DrmSP activity in mated females, we performed kinetic analysis of cleavage of a synthetic N-terminal truncated DrmSP8-36 (T-SP) with hemolymph of unmated versus mated females. We found that T-SP is cleaved more rapidly and completely in mated female hemolymph. Using LC-MS/MS analyses, we identified its primary cleavage sites, indicating that trypsin was the major endopeptidase regulating T-SP in hemolymph. This was verified in vitro by utilizing specific chromogenic serine-protease substrates and inhibitors. We propose that post-mating cleavage of DrmSP in the female hemolymph regulates the duration of the rapidly induced post-mating responses in D. melanogaster and that this is a specific example of Acp bioactivity regulated by hemolymph serine proteases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)320-330
Number of pages11
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank E. Kubli for the C-terminus SP antibody. Special thanks to U. Tram for careful reading of this paper and to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. This research was supported by a grant (824-0100) from the Chief Scientists Fund of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture to Y.H and S.W.A and by grants to S.W.A from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) (486/01-17.2) and the Mauerberger Foundation Fund.


  • Acp70A
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Hemolymph
  • Mating
  • Serine protease
  • Sex Peptide


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