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This study concerns the metabolic pathways of 3-hydroxykynurenine in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes during development with emphasis on its oxidation pathway to produce xanthommatin during eye pigmentation. Oxidation of tryptophan to 3-hydroxykynurenine is the major pathway of tryptophan catabolism in Aedes aegypti, but 3-hydroxykynurenine oxidizes easily under physiological conditions, which stimulate the production of reactive oxygen species. Our data show that in Aedes aegypti, the chemically reactive 3-hydroxykynurenine is converted to the chemically stable xanthurenic acid by a transaminase-catalyzed reaction during larval development, while 3-hydroxykynurenine is transported to the compound eyes for eye pigmentation during pupal development. Our data suggest that (1) the transamination pathway of 3-hydroxykynurenine is down-regulated during the pupal development, (2) 3-hydroxykynurenine produced in other body tissues is actively transported to the compound eyes during the pupal stage, (3) the compound eye is the place where ommochromes are produced, and (4) formation of ommochromes results from nonenzymatic oxidation of 3-hydroxykynurenine in the compound eyes.

Original publication




Journal article


Insect Biochem Mol Biol

Publication Date





329 - 338


Aedes, Amino Acids, Animals, Eye Color, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Insect Proteins, Kynurenine, Monophenol Monooxygenase, Oxazines, Oxidation-Reduction, Pigments, Biological, Pupa, Reactive Oxygen Species, Tissue Distribution, Tryptophan, Xanthenes