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The effect of topically applied chlorpyrifos on acetylcholinesterase and other esterases in heads and decapitated bodies of CSMA and Crawford German cockroaches was examined with spectrophotometric enzyme assay and native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The toxicity of chlorpyrifos was greatly reduced in decapitated CSMA male cockroaches with LD50 value 17.1-fold higher than that of normal CSMA cockroaches. Acetylcholinesterase activity from heads was significantly higher in the Crawford compared with the CSMA strain and did not change until 24 h after chlorpyrifos in vivo treatment in both strains. The p-nitrophenyl butyrate (NPB) esterase activities from both heads and decapitated bodies of the resistant Crawford strain were significantly greater than the susceptible CSMA strain. The p-NPB esterase activity was significantly inhibited by chlorpyrifos in vivo treatment, and total p-NPB esterase activity was significantly reduced in decapitated bodies compared with heads of both strains. Native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) analysis of extracts solubilized with Triton X-100 from heads and decapitated bodies revealed five major esterase bands and an acetylcholinesterase (AChE) band with a high capability of hydrolyzing α-naphthyl butyrate and acetylthiocholine, respectively. In the heads of susceptible CSMA male cockroaches, the activity of mobile isozymes d1 and d2 was completely inhibited at 24 h after chlorpyrifos application, and isozyme e was partially inhibited. In contrast, isozymes c1 and c2 from the decapitated bodies of CSMA cockroaches were mostly affected at 24 h after the topical application of chlorpyrifos. The activities of acetylcholinesterase and esterase isozymes a and b from the decapitated body remained uninhibited in both strains. Inhibition of isozymes d1 and d2 seems to be more important in chlorpyrifos intoxication than acetylcholinesterase.