Lipid transport in arthropods is achieved by highly specialized lipoproteins, which resemble those described in vertebrate blood. Here, we describe purification and characterization of the lipid-apolipoprotein complex, lipophorin (Lp), in the malaria vector mosquito Anopheles gambiae. We also describe the Lp-mediated lipid transfer to developing eggs and the distribution of the imported lipid in developing embryos. The density of the Lp complex was 1.135 g/ml with an apparent molecular weight of 630 kDa. It is composed of two major polypeptides, apoLp I (260 kDa) and apoLp II (74 kDa) and composed of 50% protein, 48% lipid and 2% carbohydrate (w/w). Hydrocarbon, cholesterol, phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidyl ethanolamine, cholesteryl ester and diacylglyceride were the major Lp-associated lipids. Using fluorescently tagged lipids, we observed patterns that suggest that in live developing oocytes, the Lp was taken up by a receptor-mediated endocytic process. Such process was blocked at low temperature and in the presence of excess unlabeled Lp, but not by bovine serum albumin. Imported Lp was segregated in the spherical yolk bodies (mean size 1.8 μm) and distributed evenly in the cortex of the oocyte. In embryonic larvae, before hatching, a portion of the fatty acid in vesicles was found evenly distributed along the body, whereas portion of phospholipids was accumulated in the intestine. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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