Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2024 Feb 9:104088. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2024.104088. Online ahead of print.
Compounds classified as benzoylphenylurea (BPU), such as diflubenzuron (DFB), are used as insecticides. Although BPU disrupts molting by inhibiting chitin biosynthesis and exhibits insecticidal activity, their exact mode of action remains unknown. Since epidermal cells proliferate and morphologically change from squamous to columnar cells during the early stages of insect molting, we speculate that a transition similar to that from epithelium to mesenchyme occurs and that BPU may inhibit this transition. Here, we addressed this possibility. We found that DFB decreases actin expression in insect cells (the tissue cultures of insect integument). Detailed analysis in Schneider S2 cells reveals that DFB inhibits the expression of actin isoforms (Act5C and Act42A) and the Drosophila ortholog of myocardin-related transcription factor (Mrtf), leading to cell growth suppression. Proteomics identified the Drosophila ortholog of prohibitin (Phb1D and Phb2E) as one of the DFB-binding proteins. DFB inhibits the interaction between Phb1D and Phb2E and induces mitochondrial dysfunction. The knock-down of Phb2E suppresses the expression of Act5C, Act42A, and Mrtf, leading to cell growth inhibition. Thus, the disruption of Phb function is a possible novel target of DFB.