Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) plays a key role in cholinergic impulse transmission, and it is the target enzyme for organophosphorus and carbamate insecticides. Two genes, AceI and AceII, have been characterized from different insect species, and point mutations in either gene can lead to significant resistance to these classes of insecticides. In this report, we describe the partial characterization of the AceI gene from Lutzomyia longipalpis (Lutz & Neiva) (Diptera: Psychodidae), and we show that the possibility exists for the development of a resistant phenotype to organophosphates and carbamates in sand flies. Our results point to the presence of a single AceI gene in L. longipalpis (LlAce1) and that AChE activity is inhibited by organophosphorus at a concentration of 5 × 10−5 M. Regarding insecticide resistance, analysis of the truncated LlAce1 cDNA suggests that a single missense mutation leading to a glycine-to-serine substitution at amino acid position 119 (G119S) may arise in L. longipalpis, similar to what has been detected in Anopheles gambiae s.s. Another missense mutation involved in resistant phenotypes, F331W, detected in Culex tritaeniorhynchus Giles, is less likely to occur in L. longipalpis, because it faces codon constraint in this sand fly species. Comparison of the three-dimensional structures of the deduced amino acid sequence of the truncated LLAChE1 with that of An. gambiae and Cx. tritaeniorhynchus also suggests that similar structural modifications due to the missense amino acid changes in the active site gorge are detected in all three insects.
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Vol. 44 • No. 4