Word of the Day – Hyaluronidase
(The word of the day is taken from the Torre Bueno Glossary of Entomology)
Hyaluronidase, in some predaceous insects, an enzyme injected into prey with the saliva that breaks down the polysaccharide ground substance of connective tissues, aids in the penetration of the saliva, and assists in liquefying the tissues of the victim.
I chose this word because geez, it sounds scary!
This enzyme is found in some blood-sucking insects, but not all. It has been found in some deer flies, biting midges, mosquitoes, a sand fly, and the cat flea. However it is not found in all deer flies or mosquitoes. It seems to be useful in insects which feed by creating a large lesion and a pool of blood, and might help transmit pathogens.
The first thing that comes to mind is the day when I was chased by what felt like (and might actually have been) a few dozen of these guys (same genus as the one known to have Hyaluronidase, though I’m not sure of the species). The picture was taken from inside my car.
Volfova V, Hostomska J, Cerny M, Votypka J, Volf P (2008) Hyaluronidase of bloodsucking insects and its enhancing effect on leishmania infection in mice. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2: e294 (link)