Gertsch Group

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland

How do Paederus beetles cope with pederin?

How do Paederus beetles cope with pederin?
Jurg Gertsch - Sun Apr 18, 2010 @ 04:13AM
Comments: 17

pederinPederin is a highly bioactive natural product orignially thought to be produced by Paederus beetles as this compound can be extracted from these animals. In 2002, studying the beetle genome and the biosynthesis of this natural product the group of Jörn Piel at the Max Planck in Jena found that this highly toxic compound actually originates from bacteria (Pseudomonas sp.) which live endosymbiotically within the beetle (PNAS paper).

paederus beelte

The obvious advantage for the beetle is that it becomes toxic to potential preditors and does not have to produce the toxin by itself. The bacteria do the job. In humans this beetle, also called blister beetle, causes strong dermatitis (see image).

blister beetle dermatitis

Dermatitis from Paederus blister beetle (image from Dermatology Online Journal 12(7):9)

However, since pederin potently inhibits DNA synthesis and it is a blocker of cell division and leads to cell death and the compound can be detected in the haemolymph of the beetle the question is how does this insect protect itself from the toxic effect of the compound? Do Paederus beetles have an endogenous system (sink) to protect themselves from the molecular effects of pederin? Maybe, if we could understand how nature solves the problem we could develop a strategy to protect blister beetle dermatitis which is prevalent in many parts of the world. Interestingly, Paederus dermatitis in Africa is a relatively severe form of dermatitis. The better response to a combination of topical steroids and oral antibiotics may in fact indicate concurrent bacterial infection. Thus, maybe the endosymbiont Pseudomonas is transmitted from the beetle to the skin and continues to produce pederin, which then leads to the symptom of dermatitis, a hypothesis that has not beed addressed so far.

Comments: 17


1. Marzie   |   Sat Sep 04, 2010 @ 04:39PM

I need more information about the mechanism of how pederin blocks mitosis.

2. Jürg Gertsch   |   Sat Sep 11, 2010 @ 07:46AM

Dear Marzie,

The precise mechanism remains to be elucidated (e.g. via a proteomics approach). Since pederin blocks protein synthesis at low nM concentrations and because during mitosis several important proteins (e.g. during the prophase) are upregulated, the effect of pederin is characterized by a stop of the nuclear cycle at telo-prophase when the action is sufficient, chromosome abnormalities, sometimes, reduced to strings of beads, and freeing of asters; at weaker concentrations mitosis is possible, but the congression of chromosomes at the equator is abnormal because of functional disturbance of the kinetochores. During the gap between DNA synthesis and mitosis, the cell will continue to grow and produce new proteins if these are not blocked. One can expect that pederin has other effects beyond blockage of mitosis.

3. amal   |   Fri Mar 04, 2011 @ 11:48AM

am the victim.... if u need photograpg

4. Louis   |   Wed Jul 13, 2011 @ 04:01PM

I just experienced a paederus blister beetle episode in Thailand (near Bangkok). At first I was not concerned and simply had the area disinfected and bandaged (at calf). But, then later that day, when I notice its mirror image on the back of my hamstring, I became concerned. I went to Bangkok hospital and they made the correct diagnosis. The doctor recognized the symptoms and prescribed 500 mg cloxamid antibiotic tablets 4x per day for 1 week. After one day.... so far so good. I am concerned that it is not known if the pseudomonas sp. bacteria play a role in the infection. A truly nasty little beetle.

5. Helena   |   Mon Apr 16, 2012 @ 02:26PM

Thanks for the information, one month ago in My country (Indonesia) there was an outbreak in such spot areas which was caused by human destroy mangrove...

6. Fiona mueni   |   Sat Apr 21, 2012 @ 01:06PM

Have been bitten by paederus beetle in kenya and the irritation is damn severe although have used cloxamide antibiotics

7. Fiona mueni   |   Sat Apr 21, 2012 @ 01:14PM

Have been bitten by the paederus rove beetle at kenya medical training college campus machakos,nairobi,kenya but after taking antihistamines combined with antibiotics the irritation eased

8. henry   |   Tue May 08, 2012 @ 01:19PM

if i see this insect again in my life , i will kill it so badly , i will stamp on it a hundred times,it spoil my complete face.

9. Anonymous   |   Wed Apr 23, 2014 @ 09:15AM

They are much more brightly colored than other rove beetles, with metallic blue- or green-colored elytra and many with bright orange or red on the pronotum and the basal segments of the abdomen. These bright colors may be an example of aposematism, a warning signal to potential predators.

10. Anonymous   |   Sat May 03, 2014 @ 12:22PM

Paederus dermatitis, is a poor choice because, decades earlier, the affliction had been called dermatitis linearis, a name that works in all languages, not just English, because of its Latin origin the name Paederus dermatitis is also inappropriate because it has shown to be caused by only a few species of the genus Paederus.

11. Jane   |   Thu Apr 21, 2016 @ 12:29AM

I live in Kenya, It is currently the rainy season and there seems to be an outbreak of this Nairobi flies. specifically in my house. I have tried to locate the entry points consequently i have sealed all the vents and possible entry points. On the net there is very little information about how these insects behave, where they live and how to control them or prevent them from entering the house. Anyone with this information on this thread any useful tips on prevention or destruction (even bio methods) will be highly appreciated

12. jayantibhai patel   |   Mon Apr 17, 2017 @ 02:38PM

Blister Beetle dermatitis and Paedrus dermatitis are two different diseases .Former is due to canthardin and later to Paedrin.Mode of action of both chemicals are different. Rove beetles have pederin in hemolymph when it crushed on skin then Paedrin comes into the contact of skin and symptoms appears after 24 hours and linear in shape.Blister beetle can have canthardin not only in hemolymph in the body but also at joints of legs.They are larger beetles so it produces larg lesion and symptoms appear within 24 hours.

13. Anonymous   |   Mon Apr 16, 2018 @ 07:44PM

How if I accidentally ate the Paederus offspring in my meal?
Please help.

14. Firazeta   |   Tue Apr 17, 2018 @ 01:33AM

Dear Prof Gertsch, what should I do when I found Paedrus in the middle of my meal? Not sure about the point of entry but I experience violent diarrhea less than an hour after ingestion.

15. Jurg Gertsch   |   Thu Apr 19, 2018 @ 06:38PM

Clearly, there is nothing you can do but detoxify yourself - charcoal would have been an option or otherwise go to the hospital. Hope you are better by now.

16. Olé Mbugua   |   Sat May 26, 2018 @ 10:03AM

Nairobi, they're back in trickles. It seems their population bursts are triggered by long rainfalls. We've had three months

17. addisu y   |   Wed Jul 25, 2018 @ 07:17PM

In my country it's strongly associated with people living with HIV virus since the effects persist I believe this would be a great way to find out if the bacteria (Pseudomonas sp.) Is transferred to humans

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