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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Michael Kanost, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor
Undergraduate Advisor

Image of Michael Kanost, Ph.D.Dr. Michael Kanost discussing a research poster with students.

Research Video

Contact information

Office: 63 Chalmers Hall
Phone: 785-532-6964
Fax: 785-532-7278
E-mail: kanost@ksu.edu
Lab website


B.S. 1979, Colorado State University
Ph.D. 1983, Purdue University

Areas of specialty

  • Insect biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Structure and function of hemolymph serine proteinases, proteinase inhibitors, and antimicrobial response proteins from insects
  • Biochemistry of the insect cuticle
  • Function of insect multicopper oxidases
  • Manduca sexta genome sequence

My laboratory is investigating proteins present in the hemolymph (blood) of insects, with special interest in the proteins' functions in the insect immune system. We are studying plasma proteins, including prophenoloxidase, serine proteases, protease inhibitors from the serpin superfamily, and proteins that bind to microbial polysaccharides. The long range goal is to understand the biochemical and cellular processes by which insect immune systems recognize and respond to pathogens and parasites. We also investigate the biochemistry of cuticle proteins and their roles in determining mechanical properties of insect exoskeletons. Our laboratory coordinated the annotation of the recently sequenced genome of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta.

Selected publications

Wang Y., Yang, F., Cao, X., Zou, Z., Lu, Z., Kanost, M.R., Jiang, H. (2020) Hemolymph protease-5 links the melanization and Toll immune pathways in the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA, in press

Li, M., Takahashi, D., and Kanost, M.R. (2020) Peptides based on the reactive center loop of Manduca sexta serpin-3 block its protease inhibitory function. Scientific Reports 13;10(1):11497. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-68316-4

Weber, J.W., Kanost, M.R., and Gorman, M.J. (2020) Iron binding and release properties of transferrin-1 from Drosophila melanogaster and Manduca sexta: implications for insect iron homeostasis. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 25:103438. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2020.103438

Najera, D.G., Dittmer, N.T., Weber, J.J., Kanost, M.R. and Gorman, M.J. (2020) Phylogenetic and sequence analysis of insect transferrins suggest that only transferrin 1 has a role in iron homeostasis. Insect Science, doi: 10.1111/1744-7917.12783

Wang, Y., Yang, F., Cao, H., Huang, R., Paskewitz, S., Hartson, S.D., Kanost, M.R., and Jiang, H. (2020) Inhibition of immune pathway-initiating hemolymph protease-14 by Manduca sexta serpin-12, a conserved mechanism for the regulation of melanization and Toll activation in insects. Insect Biochem. Molec. Biol. 16, 103261 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ibmb.2019.103261

Kobayashi, Y., Nojima, Y., Sakamoto, T., Iwabuchi, K., Nakazato, T., Bono, H., Toyoda, A., Fujiyama, A., Kanost, M.R. and Tabunoki, H. (2019) Comparative analysis of seven types of superoxide dismutases for their ability to respond to oxidative stress in the silkworm Bombyx mori. Sci. Reports. 9(1):2170.

Li., M., Christen, J.M., Dittmer, N.T., Cao, X., Zhang, X., Jiang, H. and Kanost, M.R. (2018) The Manduca sexta Serpinome: Analysis of serpin genes and proteins in the tobacco hornworm. Tnsect Biochem. Molec. Biol. 102, 21-30.

Yang, F., Wang, Y., Sumathipala, N., Kanost, M.R. and Jiang, H. (2018) Manduca sexta serpin-12 controls the prophenoloxidase activation system in larval hemolymph. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 99, 27-36.

Vaclaw, M., Sprouse, P. Dittmer, N.T., Ghazvini, S., Middaugh, C. R., Kanost, M.R., Gehrke, S. and Dhar, P. (2018) Self-assembled coacervates of chitosan and insect cuticle proteins containing Rebers-Riddiford motif. Biomacromolecules. 19, 2391-2400.

Meekins, D.A., Kanost, M.R. and Michel, K. (2017) Serpins in arthropod biology. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 62, 105-119

Kanost, M.R., Arrese, E.L., Cao, X., Chen, Y., Chellapilla, S., Goldsmith, M.R., Grosse-Wilde, E., Heckel, D.G., Herndon, N., Jiang, H., Papanicolaou, A., Qu, J., Soulages, J.L., Vogel, H., Walters, J., Waterhouse, R.M., Ahn, S., Almeida, F.C., An, C., Aqrawi, P., Bretschneider, A., Bryant, W.B., Bucks, S., Chao, H., Chevignon, G., Christen, J.M., Clarke, D.F., Dittmer, N.T., Ferguson, L.C.F., Garavelou, S., Gordon, K.H.J., Gunaratna, R.T., Han, Y., Hauser, F., He, Y., Heidel-Fischer, H., Hirsh, A., Hu, Y., Jiang, H., Kalra, D., Klinner, C., König, C., Kovar, C., Kroll, A.R., Kuwar, S.S., Lee, S.L., Lehman, R., Li, K., Li, Z., Liang, H., Lovelace, S., Lu, Z., Mansfield, J.H., McCulloch, K.J., Mathew, T., Morton, B., Muzny, D.M., Neunemann, D., Ongeri, F., Pauchet, Y., Pu, L., Pyrousis, I., Rao, X., Redding, A., Roesel, C., Sanchez-Gracia, A., Schaack, S., Shukla, A., Tetreau, G., Traut, W., Walsh, T.K., Wang, Y., Worley, K.C., Wu, D., Wu, W., Wu, Y., Zhang, X., Zou, Z., Zucker, H., Briscoe, A.D., Burmester, T., Clem, R.J., Feyereisen, R., Grimmelikhuijzen, C.J.P., Hamodrakas, S.J., Hansson, B., Huguet, S., Jermiin, L.S., Lan, Q., Lehman, H.K., Lorenzen, M., Merzendorfer, H., Michalopoulos, I., Morton, D.B., Muthukrishnan, S., Oakeshott, J.G., Palmer, W., Park, Y., Passarelli, A.L., Rozas, J., Schwartz, L.M., Smith, W., Southgate, M., Vilcinskas, A., Vogt, R., Wang, P., Werren, J., Yu, X-Q., Zhou, J., Brown, S.J., Scherer, S.E., Richards, S., and Blissard, G.W. (2016) Multifaceted biological insights from a draft genome sequence of the tobacco hornworm moth, Manduca sexta. Insect Biochem Mol. Biol. 76, 118-147. doi: 10.1016

Al Souhail, Q., Hiromasa, Y., Rahnamaeian, M., Giraldo, M.C., Takahashi, D., Valent, B., Vilcinskas, A., and Kanost, M.R. (2016) Characterization and regulation of expression of an antifungal peptide from hemolymph of an insect, Manduca sexta. Dev. Comp. Immunol. 61, 258-268.

Takahashi, D., Garcia, B., and Kanost, M.R. (2015) An initiating protease with modular domains interacts with ß-glucan recognition protein to trigger innate immune response in insects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 112, 13856-13861.

Kanost, M.R. and Jiang, H. (2015) Clip-domain serine proteases as immune factors in insect hemolymph. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 11, 47-55.

Complete Publications List