Open Access Research

Trypsin-like serine peptidase profiles in the egg, larval, and pupal stages of Aedes albopictus

Leonardo Saboia-Vahia1, André Borges-Veloso1, Camila Mesquita-Rodrigues1, Patricia Cuervo2, Geovane Dias-Lopes1, Constança Britto1, Ana Paula de Barros Silva1 and Jose B De Jesus13*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratório de Biologia Molecular e Doenças Endêmicas, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2 Laboratório de Pesquisa em Leishmaniose, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3 Departamento de Engenharia de Biossistemas, Universidade Federal de São João Del Rey, Minas Gerais, Brazil

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Parasites & Vectors 2013, 6:50  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-6-50

Published: 27 February 2013



Aedes albopictus, a ubiquitous mosquito, is one of the main vectors of dengue and yellow fever, representing an important threat to public health worldwide. Peptidases play key roles in processes such as digestion, oogenesis, and metamorphosis of insects. However, most of the information on the proteolytic enzymes of mosquitoes is derived from insects in the adult stages and is often directed towards the understanding of blood digestion. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of active peptidases from the preimaginal stages of Ae. albopictus.


Ae. albopictus eggs, larvae, and pupae were analyzed using zymography with susbtrate-SDS-PAGE. The pH, temperature and peptidase inhibitor sensitivity was evaluated. In addition, the proteolytic activities of larval instars were assayed using the fluorogenic substrate Z-Phe-Arg-AMC.


The proteolytic profile of the larval stage was composed of 8 bands ranging from 17 to 130 kDa. These enzymes displayed activity in a broad range of pH values, from 5.5 to 10.0. The enzymatic profile of the eggs was similar to that of the larvae, although the proteolytic bands of the eggs showed lower intensities. The pupal stage showed a complex proteolytic pattern, with at least 6 bands with apparent molecular masses ranging from 30 to 150 kDa and optimal activity at pH 7.5. Peptidases from larval instars were active from 10°C to 60°C, with optimal activity at temperatures between 37°C and 50°C. The proteolytic profile of both the larval and pupal stages was inhibited by phenyl-methyl sulfonyl-fluoride (PMSF) and Nα-Tosyl L-lysine chloromethyl ketone hydrochloride (TLCK), indicating that the main peptidases expressed during these developmental stages are trypsin-like serine peptidases.


The preimaginal stages of Ae. albopictus exhibited a complex profile of trypsin-like serine peptidase activities. A comparative analysis of the active peptidase profiles revealed differential expression of trypsin-like isoforms among the preimaginal stages, suggesting that some of these enzymes are stage specific. Additionally, a comparison of the peptidase expression between larvae from eggs collected in the natural environment and larvae obtained from the eggs of female mosquitoes maintained in colonies for a long period of time demonstrated that the proteolytic profile is invariable under such conditions.

Aedes albopictus; Culicidae; Preimaginal stages; Trypsin-like serine peptidases; Peptidases; Zymography