A group of abundant proteins of ~30 kDa is synthesized in silkworm larval peripheral fat body (PPFB) tissues and transported into the open circulatory system (hemolymph) in a time-depended fashion to be eventually stored as granules in the pupal perivisceral fat body (PVFB) tissues for adult development during the non-feeding stage. These proteins have been shown to act anti-apoptotic besides being assigned roles in embryogenesis and defense. However, detailed protein structural information for individual PPFB and PVFB tissues during larval and pupal developmental stages is still missing. Gel electrophoresis and chromatography were used to separate the 30 kDa proteins from both PPFB and PVFB as well as hemolymph total proteomes. Mass spectrometry (MS) was employed to elucidate individual protein sequences. Furthermore, 30 kDa proteins were purified and biochemically characterized.
One- and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (1/2D-PAGE) was used to visualize the relative changes of abundance of the 30 kDa proteins in PPFB and PVFB as well as hemolymph from day 1 of V instar larval stage to day 6 of pupal stage. Their concentrations were markedly increased in hemolymph and PVFB up to the first two days of pupal development and these proteins were consumed during development of the adult insect. Typically, three protein bands were observed (~29, 30, 31 kDa) in 1D-PAGE, which were subjected to MS-based protein identification along with spots excised from 2D-gels run for those proteomes. Gas phase fragmentation was used to generate peptide sequence information, which was matched to the available nucleotide data pool of more than ten highly homologous insect 30 kDa lipoproteins. Phylogenetic and similarity analyses of those sequences were performed to assist in the assignment of experimentally identified peptides to known sequences. Lipoproteins LP1 to LP5 and L301/302 could be matched to peptides extracted from all bands suggesting the presence of full length and truncated or modified protein forms in all of them. The individual variants could not be easily separated by classical means of purification such as 2D-PAGE because of their high similarity. They even seemed to aggregate as was indicated by native gel electrophoresis. Multistep chromatographic procedures eventually allowed purification of an LP3-like protein. The protein responded to lipoprotein-specific staining.
In B. mori larvae and pupae, 30 kDa lipoproteins LP1 to LP5 and L301/302 were detected in PPFB and PVFB tissue as well as in hemolymph. The concentration of these proteins changed progressively during development from their synthesis in PPFB, transport in hemolymph to storage in PVFB. While the 30 kDa proteins could be reproducibly separated in three bands electrophoretically, the exact nature of the individual protein forms present in those bands remained partially ambiguous. The amino acid sequences of all known 30 kDa proteins showed very high homology. High-resolution separation techniques will be necessary before MS and other structural analysis can shed more light on the complexity of the 30 kDa subproteome in B. mori. A first attempt to that end allowed isolation of a B. mori LP3-like protein, the complete structure, properties and function of which will now be elucidated in detail.