Small-Molecule Inhibitors of Inward Rectifier Potassium (Kir) Channels Reduce Bloodmeal Feeding and Have Insecticidal Activity Against the Horn Fly (Diptera: Muscidae)

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© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. Bloodmeal feeding by the horn fly, Haematobia irritans (L.), is associated with reduced milk production and blood loss that ultimately prevents weight gain of calves and yearlings. Thus, blood feeding by H. irritans causes significant economic losses in several continents. As with other arthropods, resistance to the majority of commercialized insecticides reduces the efficacy of current control programs. Thus, innovative technologies and novel biochemical targets for horn fly control are needed. Salivary gland and Malpighian tubule function are critical for H. irritans survivorship as they drive bloodmeal acquisition and maintain ion- and fluid homeostasis during bloodmeal processing, respectively. Experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that pharmacological modulation of H. irritans inward rectifier potassium (Kir) channels would preclude blood feeding and induce mortality by reducing the secretory activity of the salivary gland while simultaneously inducing Malpighian tubule failure. Experimental results clearly indicate structurally diverse Kir channel modulators reduce the secretory activity of the salivary gland by up to fivefold when compared to control and the reduced saliva secretion was highly correlated to a reduction in bloodmeal acquisition in adult flies. Furthermore, adult feeding on blood treated with Kir channel modulators resulted in significant mortality. In addition to validating the Kir channels of H. irritans as putative insecticide targets, the knowledge gained from this study could be applied to develop novel therapeutic technologies targeting salivary gland or Malpighian tubule function to reduce the economic burden of horn fly ectoparasitism on cattle health and production.

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Journal of medical entomology

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