The larvae of the greater wax moth Galleria mellonella prosper in use both as surrogate alternative model hosts for human pathogens and as a whole-animal-high-throughput-system for in vivo testing of antibiotics or mutant-libraries of pathogens. In addition, a broad spectrum of antimicrobial peptides and proteins has been identified in this insect during the past decade among which some appear to be specific for Lepidoptera. Its arsenal of immunity-related effector molecules encompasses peptides and proteins exhibiting potent activity against bacteria, fungi or both, whose potential as new anti-infective therapeutics is presently being explored. Of particular interest is the insect metalloproteinase inhibitor (IMPI) which has been discovered in G. mellonella. The IMPI exhibits a specific and potent activity against thermolysin-like microbial metalloproteinases including a number of prominent virulence and/or pathogenic factors of human pathogens which are responsible for severe symptoms such as septicemia, hemorrhagic tissue bleeding, necrosis and enhancement of vascular permeability. The IMPI and antimicrobial peptides from G. mellonella may provide promising templates for the rational design of new drugs since evidence is available that the combination of antibiotics with inhibitors of pathogen-associated proteolytic enzymes yields synergistic therapeutic effects. The potential and limitations of insect-derived gene-encoded antimicrobial compounds as antiinfective therapeutics are discussed.
Keywords: Anti-infectives, antibiotics, antimicrobial peptides, insect biotechnology, insects, galleria mellonella, peptides, biotechnology, transcriptomic, Cecropins, amphipathic, lebocins, Lepidoptera, Staphylococcus aureus, Gloverins, Gallerimycin, Moricins, Lysozymes, Spodoptericin
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