Juvenile hormone binding proteins (JHBPs) serve as specific carriers of juvenile hormone (JH) in insect hemolymph. As shown in this report, Galleria mellonella JHBP is encoded by a cDNA of 1063 nucleotides. The preprotein consists of 245 amino acids with a 20 amino acid leader sequence. The concentration of the JHBP mRNA reaches a maximum on the third day of the last larval instar, and decreases fivefold towards pupation. Comparison of amino acid sequences of JHBPs from Bombyx mori, Heliothis virescens, Manduca sexta and G. mellonella shows that 57 positions out of 226 are occupied by identical amino acids. A phylogeny tree was constructed from 32 proteins, which function could be associated to JH. It has three major branches: (i) ligand binding domains of nuclear receptors, (ii) JHBPs and JH esterases (JHEs), and (iii) hypothetical proteins found in Drosophila melanogaster genome. Despite the close positioning of JHEs and JHBPs on the tree, which probably arises from the presence of a common JH binding motif, these proteins are unlikely to belong to the same family. Detailed analysis of the secondary structure modeling shows that JHBPs may contain a βbarrel motif flanked by αhelices and thus be evolutionary related to the same superfamily as calycins.
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