A hemocyte-specific integrin required for hemocytic encapsulation in the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta

David M. Levin, Lisha N. Breuer, Shufei Zhuang, Sheri A. Anderson, James B. Nardi, Michael R. Kanost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Upon encountering an object recognized as foreign, insect hemocytes aggregate in multiple layers on the surfaces of the object in a process known as encapsulation. For encapsulation to occur, hemocytes must switch from their usual nonadherent state to an adherent state, presumably by regulating the activity of adhesion proteins. Although detailed knowledge exists regarding the adhesion receptors for cells of the mammalian immune system, comparable information on adhesion molecules of insect hemocytes and their function in immune responses is extremely limited. We report here the identification of an integrin present exclusively on the surface of hemocytes in the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. Monoclonal antibodies MS13 and MS34, which bind to plasmatocytes and block encapsulation, were used for immunoaffinity chromatography to isolate their corresponding hemocyte antigen, which was revealed to be the same integrin β subunit. A cDNA for this M. sexta integrin β1 was cloned and characterized. Integrin-β1 mRNA was detected by Northern analysis in hemocytes and not in other tissues tested. MS13 and MS34 were demonstrated to bind to a recombinant fragment of integrin β1 consisting of the I-like domain, consistent with their blocking of a ligand-binding site and subsequent disruption of plasmatocyte adhesion. Injection of double stranded integrin-β1 RNA into larvae resulted in decreased integrin β1 expression in plasmatocytes and significantly suppressed encapsulation. These results indicate that activation of ligand-binding by the hemocyte-specific integrin plays a key role in stimulating plasmatocyte adhesion leading to encapsulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-380
Number of pages12
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Cell adhesion
  • Encapsulation
  • Hemocyte
  • Innate immunity
  • Insect immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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