Bertonceli, Maria AA, et al. “A vicilin-like protein extracted from Clitoria fairchildiana cotyledons was toxic to Callosobruchus maculatus (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae).” Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology (2022): 105129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pestbp.2022.105129
Callosobruchus maculatus is the main pest cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). Given its relevance as an insect pest, studies have focused in finding toxic compounds which could prevent its predatory action towards the seeds. Clitoria fairchildiana is a native Amazon species, whose seeds are refractory to insect predation. This characteristic was the basis of our interest in evaluating the toxicity of its seed proteins to C. maculatus larvae. Seed proteins were fractioned, according to their solubility, to albumins (F1), globulins (F2), kaphyrins (F3), glutelins (F4), linked kaphyrins (F5) and cross-linked glutelins (F6). The fractionated proteins were quantified, analysed by tricine-SDS-PAGE and inserted into the diet of this insect pest in order to evaluate their insecticidal potential. The most toxic fraction to C. maculatus, the propanol soluble F3, was submitted to molecular exclusion chromatography and all of the peaks obtained, F3P1, F3P2, F3P3, caused a reduction of larval mass, especially F3P1, seen as a major ~12 kDa electrophoretic band. This protein was identified as a vicilin-like protein by mass spectrometry and BLAST analysis. The alignment of the Cfvic (C. fairchildiana vicilin) peptides with a V. unguiculata vicilin sequence, revealed that Cfvic has at least five peptides (ALLTLVNPDGR, AILTLVNPDGR, NFLAGGKDNV, ISDINSAMDR, NFLAGEK) which lined up with two chitin binding sites (ChBS). This finding was corroborated by chitin affinity chromatography and molecular docking of chitin-binding domains for N-Acetyl-D-glucosamine and by the reduction of Cfvic chitin affinity after chemical modification of its Lys residues. In conclusion, Cfvic is a 12 kDa vicilin-like protein, highly toxic to C. maculatus, acting as an insect toxin through its ability to bind to chitin structures present in the insect midgut.