Tying pest insects in knots: the deployment of spider-venom-derived knottins as bioinsecticides.Pest Manag Sci. 2019 Sep; 75(9):2437-2445.PM
Spider venoms are complex chemical arsenals that contain a rich variety of insecticidal toxins. However, the major toxin class in many spider venoms is disulfide-rich peptides known as knottins. The knotted three-dimensional fold of these mini-proteins provides them with exceptional chemical and thermal stability as well as resistance to proteases. In contrast with other bioinsecticides, which are often slow-acting, spider knottins are fast-acting neurotoxins. In addition to being potently insecticidal, some knottins have exceptional taxonomic selectivity, being lethal to key agricultural pests but innocuous to vertebrates and beneficial insects such as bees. The intrinsic oral activity of these peptides, combined with the ability of aerosolized knottins to penetrate insect spiracles, has enabled them to be developed commercially as eco-friendly bioinsecticides. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that spider-knottin transgenes can be used to engineer faster-acting entomopathogens and insect-resistant crops. © 2019 Society of Chemical Industry.