Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lactating tsetse flies models for lactating mammals?

Date:
April 18, 2012
Source:
Society for the Study of Reproduction
Summary:
An unprecedented study of intra-uterine lactation in the tsetse fly reveals that an enzyme found in the fly's milk functions similarly in mammals, making the tsetse a potential model for lipid metabolism during mammalian lactation. Better yet, reduced levels of this enzyme led to poor health in offspring, leading the authors to suggest that targeting it could help decrease the tsetse population in Africa and so reduce the incidence of sleeping sickness.

There have been a large number of studies about SMase and associated enzymes in mammals, but almost none in insects. This image shows immunolocalization of SMase in the tsetse fly reproductive tract during pregnancy.
Credit: Image modified from Benoit et al., Biol Reprod 2012

An unprecedented study of intra-uterine lactation in the tsetse fly, just published in Biology of Reproduction's "Papers-in-Press," reveals that an enzyme found in the fly's milk functions similarly in mammals, making the tsetse a potential model for lipid metabolism during mammalian lactation.

Better yet, reduced levels of this enzyme led to poor health in offspring, leading the authors to suggest that targeting it could help decrease the tsetse population in Africa and so reduce the incidence of sleeping sickness. Tsetse flies are bloodsucking flies that inhabit much of subsaharan Africa. They are similar in size to a horsefly and breed along rivers and streams. A pathogenic species of parasite in the genus Trypanosoma can be taken in by the fly while taking a blood meal from an infected human or animal. Flies carrying the parasite can then transmit it to other humans or animals. The disease caused by the trypanosomes is known as sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in wild and domestic animals, including pigs, cattle, and horses.

Sleeping sickness affects about 37 countries and 60 million people, and an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 individuals are infected. Efforts to combat the disease are varied. One effective technique involves sterilizing male tsetse flies and then releasing them to compete with the wild males for breeding rights. The authors of this study suggest that manipulating production of the SMase enzyme and other essential milk proteins in female flies could also aid population reduction efforts.

This is the first study to uncover the biochemical mechanisms of lactation in tsetse flies. Yale University's Joshua B. Benoit and colleagues, with the help of researchers from the Slovak Academy of Sciences, documented that a sphingomyelinase (SMase) enzyme is present in tsetse milk during lactation.

This enzyme is essential for the production of a key component of cell membranes and it functions similarly during mammalian lactation.

Unlike most flies, the female tsetse produces a single egg and ovulates the egg into a uterus. When the larva hatches, it remains in the uterus until it has completed larval development. While the larva is in the uterus, the female fly expresses SMase as a component of the milk secretion of the fly's milk glands. The larva feeds on the milk, and acidic conditions in the larval gut activate the enzyme. When the researchers reduced SMase levels in the lactating mother, the offspring's development and health were impaired.

In humans, defects in SMase-encoding genes causes Niemann-Pick Disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that, in severe cases, causes death before three years of age. Although the mammalian and insect SMases differ, the basic structure and function of the enzymes and their products are similar. Thus, insects could serve as model systems for studying metabolic diseases related to SMase deficiency.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for the Study of Reproduction. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Benoit JB, Attardo GM, Michalkova V, Takac P, Bohova J, Aksoy S. Sphingomyelinase activity in mother's milk is essential for juvenile development: a case from lactating tsetse flies. Biology of Reproduction, 2012; (in press) DOI: 10.1095/biolreprod.112.100008

Cite This Page:

Society for the Study of Reproduction. "Lactating tsetse flies models for lactating mammals?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418162302.htm>.
Society for the Study of Reproduction. (2012, April 18). Lactating tsetse flies models for lactating mammals?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418162302.htm
Society for the Study of Reproduction. "Lactating tsetse flies models for lactating mammals?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418162302.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins