Genes 2017 01 128(1) pii 10.3390/genes8010028
Insect kinins were shown to have diuretic activity, inhibit weight gain, and have antifeedant activity in insects. In order to study the potential of the TAT-fusion approach to deliver diuretic peptides per os to pest insects, the HezK I peptide from Helicoverpa zea, as a representative of the kinin family, was selected. The fusion gene TAT-HezK I was designed and was used to transform tobacco plants. As a means to further improve the stability of TAT-HezK I, a fusion protein incorporating HezK I, transactivator of transcription (TAT), and the cowpea trypsin inhibitor (CpTI) was also designed. Finally, the toxicity of the different tobacco transgenic strains toward Helicoverpa armigera was compared. The results demonstrated that TAT-HezK I had high toxicity against insects via transgenic expression of the peptide in planta and intake through larval feeding. The toxicity of the fusion TAT-HezK I and CpTI was higher than the CpTI single gene in transgenic tobacco, and the fusion TAT-HezK I and CpTI further enhanced the stability and bioavailability of agents in oral administration. Our research helps in targeting new genes for improving herbivore tolerance in transgenic plant breeding.