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 October 23, 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 October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the US from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

AFP (Oct. 22, 2014) Polish doctors describe how they helped a paralysed man walk again, with the patient in disbelief at the return of sensation to his legs. Duration: 1:04 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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