Inhibition Of Chitin Synthesis And Degradation

Because chitin is present in invertebrates (abundantly in arthropods) and absent from vertebrates and plants, it is a logical target for selective pest control. Acylurea compounds, discovered serendipitously by Dutch scientists in 1972, inhibit chitin synthesis, resulting in deformed and weak cuticles that cause molting failure and death by desiccation. Acylureas do not inhibit the catalytic step of polymerization, and their exact biochemical lesion is unresolved. It appears that the mode of action is associated with the process of chitin translocation from site of catalysis across cell membranes to the region of deposition and fibrillogenesis. The first commercial product reaching the market was diflubenzuron (Dimilin) (Fig. 3), which was followed by a large number of structurally similar bioactive molecules. The acylurea compounds, which act as insect growth regulators, are widely used in integrated pest management (IPM) programs.

See Also the Following Articles

Cuticle • Exoskeleton • Integument • Molting

Further Reading

Cohen, E. (1987). Chitin biochemistry: Synthesis and inhibition. Annu.

Rev. Entomol. 32, 71-93. Cohen, E. (1993). Chitin synthesis and degradation as targets for pesticide action. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 22, 245-261. Muzzarelli, R. A. A. (1977). "Chitin." Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K. Stankiewicz, B. A., Briggs, D. E. G., Evershed, R. P., Flanerry, M. B., and Wuttke, M. (1997). Preservation of chitin in 25-million-year-old fossils. Science 276, 1541-1543. Tellam, R. L., Vuocolo, T., Johnson, S. E., Jarmey, J., and Pearson, R. D. (2000). Characterization of insect chitin synthase: cDNA sequence, gene organization and expression. Eur. J. Biochem. 267, 6025-6042. Verloop, A., and Ferrell, C. D. (1977). Benzoylphenyl ureas—A new group of larvicides interfering with chitin deposition. In "Pesticide Chemistry in the 20th Century" (J. R. Plimmer, ed.), pp. 237-270. ACS Symposium Series 37, American Chemical Society, Washington DC.

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