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1.  Comparative analysis of proteome maps of silkworm hemolymph during different developmental stages 
Proteome Science  2010;8:45.
The silkworm Bombyx mori is a lepidopteran insect with four developmental stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa, and adult. The hemolymph of the silkworm is in an open system that circulates among all organs, and functions in nutrient and hormone transport, injury, and immunity. To understand the intricate developmental mechanisms of metamorphosis, silkworm hemolymph from different developmental stages, including the 3rd day of fifth instar, the 6th day of fifth instar, the 3rd day of pupation, the 8th day of pupal stage and the first day of the moth stage, was investigated by two-dimensional electrophoresis and mass spectrometry.
Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis showed that from the larval to moth stages, silkworm hemolymph proteins changed markedly. Not only did major proteins such as SP1, SP2, and the 30 K lipoprotein change, but other proteins varied greatly at different stages. To understand the functions of these proteins in silkworm development, 56 spots were excised from gels for analysis by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). We identified 34 proteins involved in metamorphosis, programmed cell death, food digestion, metabolism, and nutrient storage and transport. Most proteins showed different expression at different stages, suggesting functions in development and metamorphosis. An abundance of proteins related to immunity were found, including hemolin, prophenoloxidase, serine proteinase-like protein, paralytic peptide-binding protein, and protease inhibitor.
Proteomics research not only provides the opportunity for direct investigation of protein expression patterns, but also identifies many attractive candidates for further study. Two-dimensional maps of hemolymph proteins expressed during the growth and metamorphosis of the silkworm offer important insights into hemolymph function and insect metamorphosis.
PMCID: PMC2944163  PMID: 20822545
The Journal of General Physiology  1956;39(6):853-868.
1. Hemolymph was collected for analysis from the silkworm, Bombyx mori, in a series of developmental stages ranging from the second molt to the late pupa. The mean pH of larval hemolymph after collection was found to be 6.45, that of pupal hemolymph, 6.57; in vivo values may be slightly lower. Total dry solids ranged from 5.4 to 10.6 per cent. Total protein ranged from 1.2 to 5.3 per cent, increasing rapidly during the fifth instar. 2. Free amino acids were separated chromatographically and estimated. Of 19 amino acids identified, amounting collectively to 823 to 1497 mg. per 100 ml., glutamine, histidine, and lysine generally occurred in greatest amount. Tryptophan was not detected, and cystine (or cysteine) was found in only one sample. The total free amino acids account for 35 to 55 per cent of the non-protein nitrogen of the plasma. 3. Free sugars, estimated semiquantitatively on chromatograms, comprise glucose, fructose, and sucrose in total amount ranging from about 5 to 40 mg. per 100 ml. Total acid-soluble, ultrafiltrable carbohydrate, estimated as glucose by the anthrone reaction, ranged from 166 to 635 mg. per 100 ml., indicating the presence of low molecular weight sugar derivatives. 4. Inorganic phosphate amounted to 5 to 15 mg. per 100 ml., and acid-soluble organic phosphate to 100 to 200 mg. per 100 ml. The latter fraction includes several substances, of which one was tentatively identified as glucose-6-phosphate and the remainder are as yet unidentified. 5. Single samples of hemolymph were also taken from larvae of the wax moth, Galleria mellonella, and the spruce sawfly, Diprion hercyniae. These contained even higher concentrations of solutes than the silkworm samples, but with a generally similar distribution. The proportions of the free amino acids were different in each species.
PMCID: PMC2147577  PMID: 13346040
3.  Hemolymph proteome changes during worker brood development match the biological divergences between western honey bees (Apis mellifera) and eastern honey bees (Apis cerana) 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):563.
Hemolymph plays key roles in honey bee molecule transport, immune defense, and in monitoring the physiological condition. There is a lack of knowledge regarding how the proteome achieves these biological missions for both the western and eastern honey bees (Apis mellifera and Apis cerana). A time-resolved proteome was compared using two-dimensional electrophoresis-based proteomics to reveal the mechanistic differences by analysis of hemolymph proteome changes between the worker bees of two bee species during the larval to pupal stages.
The brood body weight of Apis mellifera was significantly heavier than that of Apis cerana at each developmental stage. Significantly, different protein expression patterns and metabolic pathways were observed in 74 proteins (166 spots) that were differentially abundant between the two bee species. The function of hemolymph in energy storage, odor communication, and antioxidation is of equal importance for the western and eastern bees, indicated by the enhanced expression of different protein species. However, stronger expression of protein folding, cytoskeletal and developmental proteins, and more highly activated energy producing pathways in western bees suggests that the different bee species have developed unique strategies to match their specific physiology using hemolymph to deliver nutrients and in immune defense.
Our disparate findings constitute a proof-of-concept of molecular details that the ecologically shaped different physiological conditions of different bee species match with the hemolymph proteome during the brood stage. This also provides a starting point for future research on the specific hemolymph proteins or pathways related to the differential phenotypes or physiology.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-563) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4111844  PMID: 24996860
Apis mellifera ligustica; Apis cerana cerana; Larvae; Pupae; Hemolymph; Proteome
4.  A Regulatory Pathway, Ecdysone-Transcription Factor Relish-Cathepsin L, Is Involved in Insect Fat Body Dissociation 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(2):e1003273.
Insect fat body is the organ for intermediary metabolism, comparable to vertebrate liver and adipose tissue. Larval fat body is disintegrated to individual fat body cells and then adult fat body is remodeled at the pupal stage. However, little is known about the dissociation mechanism. We find that the moth Helicoverpa armigera cathepsin L (Har-CL) is expressed heavily in the fat body and is released from fat body cells into the extracellular matrix. The inhibitor and RNAi experiments demonstrate that Har-CL functions in the fat body dissociation in H. armigera. Further, a nuclear protein is identified to be transcription factor Har-Relish, which was found in insect immune response and specifically binds to the promoter of Har-CL gene to regulate its activity. Har-Relish also responds to the steroid hormone ecdysone. Thus, the dissociation of the larval fat body is involved in the hormone (ecdysone)-transcription factor (Relish)-target gene (cathepsin L) regulatory pathway.
Author Summary
Insect fat body is the intermediary metabolism organ and the main source of hemolymph components, and it is crucial for insect development and metamorphosis. However, molecular mechanism for the fat body remodeling is almost unknown other than in Drosophila melanogaster. A pupal diapause species the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Har), is a useful model to study individual or tissue remodeling, because larval fat body will remain integral in diapause-type pupae for months, whereas the dissociation of larval fat body will start on day 0 after pupation in nondiapause-type ones. Here, we find that H. armigera cathepsin L (Har-CL) is released from fat body cells into the extracellular matrix for tissue dissociation. A nuclear protein is identified to be transcription factor Har-Relish, which regulates the promoter activity of Har-CL gene. Har-Relish also responds to the steroid hormone ecdysone. Thus, a new regulatory mechanism, ecdysone-Relish-cathepsin L signaling pathway, is involved in the larval fat body dissociation.
PMCID: PMC3573115  PMID: 23459255
5.  High-titer preparation of Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus (BmNPV) displaying recombinant protein in silkworm larvae by size exclusion chromatography and its characterization 
BMC Biotechnology  2009;9:55.
Budded baculoviruses are utilized for vaccine, the production of antibody and functional analysis of transmembrane proteins. In this study, we tried to produce and purify the recombinant Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus (rBmNPV-hPRR) that displayed human (pro)renin receptor (hPRR) connected with FLAG peptide sequence on its own surface. These particles were used for further binding analysis of hPRR to human prorenin. The rBmNPV-hPRR was produced in silkworm larvae and purified from its hemolymph using size exclusion chromatography (SEC).
A rapid method of BmNPV titer determination in hemolymph was performed using quantitative real-time PCR (Q-PCR). A correlation coefficient of BmNPV determination between end-point dilution and Q-PCR methods was found to be 0.99. rBmNPV-hPRR bacmid-injected silkworm larvae produced recombinant baculovirus of 1.31 × 108 plaque forming unit (pfu) in hemolymph, which was 2.8 × 104 times higher than transfection solution in Bm5 cells. Its purification yield by Sephacryl S-1000 SF column chromatography was 264 fold from larval hemolymph at 4 days post-injection (p.i.), but 35 or 39 fold at 4.5 or 5 days p.i., respectively. Protein patterns of rBmNPV-hPRR purified at 4 and 5 days were the same and ratio of envelope proteins (76, 45 and 35 kDa) to VP39, one of nucleocapsid proteins, increased at 5 days p.i. hPRR was detected in only purified rBmNPV-hPRR at 5 days p.i..
The successful purification of rBmNPV-hPRR indicates that baculovirus production using silkworm larvae and its purification from hemolymph by Sephacryl S-1000 SF column chromatography can provide an economical approach in obtaining the purified BmNPV stocks with high titer for large-scale production of hPRR. Also, it can be utilized for further binding analysis and screening of inhibitors of hPRR.
PMCID: PMC2703641  PMID: 19523201
6.  Proteomic and metabolomic profiles of larval hemolymph associated with diapause in the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera 
BMC Genomics  2013;14(1):751.
Diapause is programmed developmental arrest coupled with the depression of metabolic activity and the enhancement of stress resistance. Pupal diapause is induced by environmental signals and is prepared during the prediapause phase. In the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, the prediapause phase, which contains two sub-phases, diapause induction and preparation, occurs in the larval stage. Here, we performed parallel proteomic and metabolomic analyses on H. armigera larval hemolymph during the prediapause phase.
By two-dimensional electrophoresis, 37 proteins were shown to be differentially expressed in diapause-destined larvae. Of these proteins, 28 were successfully identified by MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometry. Moreover, a total of 22 altered metabolites were found in diapause-destined larval hemolymph by GC-MS analysis, and the levels of 17 metabolites were elevated and 5 were decreased.
The proteins and metabolites with significantly altered levels play different roles in diapause-destined larvae, including diapause induction, metabolic storage, immune response, stress tolerance, and others. Because hemolymph circulates through the whole body of an insect, these differences found in diapause-destined larvae most likely correspond to upstream endocrine signals and would further influence other organ/tissue activities to determine the insect’s fact: diapause or development.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-751) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4046812  PMID: 24180224
7.  Fat body protein granules and storage proteins in the silkmoth, Hyalophora cecropia 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1978;78(3):823-838.
Fat body cells of silkmoth pupae (Hyalophora cecropia ) contain granules, showing a less dense outer zone and a denser, often crystalline, inner portion appear after cocoon spinning and increase until the larval-pupal ecdysis; more granules are formed in females than in males. Urate granules, appearing fibrous in internal structure, first form about the same time, but their accumulation is more gradual, and continues in the pupa. Both types have been isolated by centrifugation. Protein granules dissolve in buffers to yield proteins 1 and 2, with distinct electrophoretic and antigenic properties. These proteins have been isolated individually from pupal fat body extracts by using their different thermal stabilities in phosphate buffer containing MgCl2 and (NH4)2SO4, respectively, and purification was completed by gel chromatography. Protein 1 has a molecular weight of 480,000 and a subunit of 85,000 daltons, while protein 2 gives values of 530,000 and 89,000, respectively. Their amino acid compositions are similar but distinct. Proteins 1 and 2 accumulate in the hemolymph, beginning 3 days before spinning, reach maximal levels at spinning, and then decline in the hemolymph while granules are formed in the fat body, although the total hemolymph protein concentration does not decline at this time. It is concluded that the fat body of the late, feeding larva synthesizes two related "storage proteins" and secretes them in partially crystalline granules as protein reserves for metamorphosis.
PMCID: PMC2110208  PMID: 701361
8.  The sterol carrier protein 2/3-oxoacyl-CoA thiolase (SCPx) is involved in cholesterol uptake in the midgut of Spodoptera litura: gene cloning, expression, localization and functional analyses 
BMC Molecular Biology  2009;10:102.
Sterol carrier protein-2/3-oxoacyl-CoA thiolase (SCPx) gene has been suggested to be involved in absorption and transport of cholesterol. Cholesterol is a membrane component and is a precursor of ecdysteroids, but cannot be synthesized de novo in insects. However, a direct association between SCPx gene expression, cholesterol absorption and development in lepidopteran insects remains to be experimentally demonstrated.
An SCPx cDNA (SlSCPx) cloned from the common cutworm, Spodoptera litura, was characterized. The SlSCPx cDNA encoded a 535-amino acid protein consisting of a 3-oxoacyl-CoA thiolase (SCPx-t) domain and a SCP-2 (SCPx-2) domain. SlSCPx mRNA was expressed predominately in the midgut, while SlSCPx-2 mRNA was detected in the midgut, fat body and epidermis and no SlSCPx-t mRNA was detected. A 58-kDa full-length SCPx protein and a 44-kDa SCPx-t protein were detected in the midgut of sixth instar larvae when the anti-SlSCPx-t antibody was used in western blotting analysis; a 16-kDa SCP-2 protein was detected when anti-SlSCPx-2 antibody was used. SlSCPx protein was post-translationally cleaved into two smaller proteins, SCPx-t and SCPx-2. The gene appeared to be expressed into two forms of mRNA transcripts, which were translated into the two proteins, respectively. SlSCPx-t and SlSCPx-2 proteins have distinct and different locations in the midgut of sixth instar larvae. SlSCPx and SlSCPx-t proteins were detected predominately in the cytoplasm, whereas SlSCPx-2 protein was detected in the cytoplasm and nuclei in the Spli-221 cells. Over-expression of SlSCPx and SlSCPx-2 proteins enhanced cholesterol uptake into the Spli-221 cells. Knocking-down SlSCPx transcripts by dsRNA interference resulted in a decrease in cholesterol level in the hemolymph and delayed the larval to pupal transition.
Spatial and temporal expression pattern of this SlSCPx gene during the larval developmental stages of S. litura showed its specific association with the midgut at the feeding stage. Over-expression of this gene increased cholesterol uptake and interference of its transcript decreased cholesterol uptake and delayed the larval to pupal metamorphosis. All of these results taken together suggest that this midgut-specific SlSCPx gene is important for cholesterol uptake and normal development in S. litura.
PMCID: PMC2779813  PMID: 19912624
9.  An Invertebrate Hyperglycemic Model for the Identification of Anti-Diabetic Drugs 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e18292.
The number of individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus, which is caused by insulin resistance and/or abnormal insulin secretion, is increasing worldwide, creating a strong demand for the development of more effective anti-diabetic drugs. However, animal-based screening for anti-diabetic compounds requires sacrifice of a large number of diabetic animals, which presents issues in terms of animal welfare. Here, we established a method for evaluating the anti-diabetic effects of compounds using an invertebrate animal, the silkworm, Bombyx mori. Sugar levels in silkworm hemolymph increased immediately after feeding silkworms a high glucose-containing diet, resulting in impaired growth. Human insulin and 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-D-ribofuranoside (AICAR), an AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activator, decreased the hemolymph sugar levels of the hyperglycemic silkworms and restored growth. Treatment of the isolated fat body with human insulin in an in vitro culture system increased total sugar in the fat body and stimulated Akt phosphorylation. These responses were inhibited by wortmannin, an inhibitor of phosphoinositide 3 kinase. Moreover, AICAR stimulated AMPK phosphorylation in the silkworm fat body. Administration of aminoguanidine, a Maillard reaction inhibitor, repressed the accumulation of Maillard reaction products (advanced glycation end-products; AGEs) in the hyperglycemic silkworms and restored growth, suggesting that the growth defect of hyperglycemic silkworms is caused by AGE accumulation in the hemolymph. Furthermore, we identified galactose as a hypoglycemic compound in jiou, an herbal medicine for diabetes, by monitoring its hypoglycemic activity in hyperglycemic silkworms. These results suggest that the hyperglycemic silkworm model is useful for identifying anti-diabetic drugs that show therapeutic effects in mammals.
PMCID: PMC3068166  PMID: 21479175
10.  Storage protein profiles in Spanish and runner market type peanuts and potential markers 
BMC Plant Biology  2006;6:24.
Proteomic analysis has proven to be the most powerful method for describing plant species and lines, and for identification of proteins in complex mixtures. The strength of this method resides in high resolving power of two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE), coupled with highly sensitive mass spectrometry (MS), and sequence homology search. By using this method, we might find polymorphic markers to differentiate peanut subspecies.
Total proteins extracted from seeds of 12 different genotypes of cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.), comprised of runner market (A. hypogaea ssp. hypogaea) and Spanish-bunch market type (A. hypogaea ssp. fastigiata), were separated by electrophoresis on both one- and two-dimensional SDS-PAGE gels. The protein profiles were similar on one-dimensional gels for all tested peanut genotypes. However, peanut genotype A13 lacked one major band with a molecular weight of about 35 kDa. There was one minor band with a molecular weight of 27 kDa that was present in all runner peanut genotypes and the Spanish-derivatives (GT-YY7, GT-YY20, and GT-YY79). The Spanish-derivatives have a runner-type peanut in their pedigrees. The 35 kDa protein in A13 and the 27 kDa protein in runner-type peanut genotypes were confirmed on the 2-D SDS-PAGE gels. Among more than 150 main protein spots on the 2-D gels, four protein spots that were individually marked as spots 1–4 showed polymorphic patterns between runner-type and Spanish-bunch peanuts. Spot 1 (ca. 22.5 kDa, pI 3.9) and spot 2 (ca. 23.5 kDa, pI 5.7) were observed in all Spanish-bunch genotypes, but were not found in runner types. In contrast, spot 3 (ca. 23 kDa, pI 6.6) and spot 4 (ca. 22 kDa, pI 6.8) were present in all runner peanut genotypes but not in Spanish-bunch genotypes. These four protein spots were sequenced. Based on the internal and N-terminal amino acid sequences, these proteins are isoforms (iso-Ara h3) of each other, are iso-allergens and may be modified by post-translational cleavage.
These results suggest that there may be an association between these polymorphic storage protein isoforms and peanut subspecies fastigiata (Spanish type) and hypogaea (runner type). The polymorphic protein peptides distinguished by 2-D PAGE could be used as markers for identification of runner and Spanish peanuts.
PMCID: PMC1621064  PMID: 17038167
11.  Storage hexamer utilization in Manduca sexta 
In preparing for metamorphosis insects store in their hemolymph and fat bodies a major nutrient reserve of 500-kDa hexamerins. At least three hexamerins serve this function in Lepidoptera, including arylphorin (ArH) and two high methionine proteins (M-MtH and V-MtH). Six day-old adults of Manduca sexta are shown here to have consumed over 99% of their pupal reserves of ArH and in the case of males, 99.8% of M- and V-MtH. In support of egg formation, however, females at this stage retain over 25% of their pupal reserves of the high methionine proteins. Demonstrated here are three factors contributing to the methionine protein reserves in day-6 adult females. (1) Pupal stores of the methionine proteins average 1.67 times larger in females than in males. (2) A fraction of this pupal store remains undiminished during pharate adult development: centrifugation of homogenates partitions the hexamerins into a fraction that is soluble in PBS and a smaller, particle-associated fraction that is not. Pharate adults consume most of the soluble fraction and relatively little of the particulate fraction, which then constitutes over half of the methionine protein reserves of post-eclosion females. (3) Both soluble and particle-associated reserves double in the week following eclosion and this suggests that adult females may resume the synthesis of V- and M-MtH. Though differing in amino acid sequence and antigenic properties, V-MtH and M-MtH showed no significant differences in their storage and utilization profiles.
moderately high methionine hexamerin
phosphate buffered saline
very high methionine hexamerin
PMCID: PMC524665  PMID: 15841242
12.  Two Crystal Structures of Bombyx mori Lipoprotein 3 - Structural Characterization of a New 30-kDa Lipoprotein Family Member 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61303.
The 30-kDa family of lipoproteins from insect hemolymph has been the focus of a number of studies over the last few years. Recently, four crystal structures of Bombyx mori lipoprotein 7 have been determined. Here we report two crystal structures of another member of the 30-kDa lipoprotein family, Bombyx mori lipoprotein 3 (Bmlp3). The protein was isolated from its natural source, mulberry silkworm hemolymph. It crystallized in two different crystal forms, Bmlp3-p21 (space group P21) and Bmlp3-c2 (space group C2). The crystal structures were solved by molecular replacement using the coordinates of Bmlp7 as a starting model. The crystals of Bmlp3-p21 diffracted X-rays to 2.4 Å resolution and of Bmlp3-c2 to 2.1 Å resolution. Bmlp3 has an overall fold characteristic of 30-kDa lipoproteins, with a VHS-type N-terminal domain and β-trefoil C-terminal domain. Structural comparison of Bmlp3 and Bmlp7 shows that the loops present in the C-terminal domain are flexible and participate in dimer formation. Additionally, new putative binding sites of Bmlp3 have been analyzed in detail and the electrostatic potential of the protein surface at physiological pH 7.4 conditions has been calculated. The results of these calculations are the starting point for an explanation of the recently reported cell-penetrating properties of the 30-kDa lipoproteins.
PMCID: PMC3628942  PMID: 23613829
13.  Lipophorin acts as a shuttle of lipids to the milk gland during tsetse fly pregnancy 
Journal of insect physiology  2011;57(11):1553-1561.
During pregnancy in the viviparous tsetse fly, lipid mobilization is essential for the production of milk to feed the developing intrauterine larva. Lipophorin (Lp) functions as the major lipid transport protein in insects and closely-related arthropods. In this study, we assessed the role of Lp and the lipophorin receptor (LpR) in the lipid mobilization process during tsetse reproduction. We identified single gene sequences for GmmLp and GmmLpR from the genome of Glossina morsitans morsitans, and measured spatial and temporal expression of gmmlp and gmmlpr during the female reproductive cycle. Our results show that expression of gmmlp is specific to the adult fat body and larvae. In the adult female, gmmlp expression is constitutive. However transcript levels increase in the larva as it matures within the mother’s uterus, reaching peak expression just prior to parturition. GmmLp was detected in the hemolymph of pregnant females and larvae, but not in the uterine fluid or larval gut contents ruling out the possibility of direct transfer of GmmLp from mother to offspring. Transcripts for gmmlpr were detected in the head, ovaries, midgut, milk gland/fat body, ovaries and developing larva. Levels of gmmlpr remain stable throughout the first and second gonotrophic cycles with a slight dip observed during the first gonotrophic cycle. GmmLpR was detected in multiple tissues, including the midgut, fat body, milk gland, spermatheca and head. Knockdown of gmmlp by RNA interference resulted in reduced hemolymph lipid levels, delayed oocyte development and extended larval gestation. Similar suppresion of gmmlpr did not significantly reduce hemolymph lipid levels or oogenesis duration, but did extend the duration of larval development. Thus, GmmLp and GmmLpR function as the primary shuttle for lipids originating from the midgut and fat body to the ovaries and milk gland to supply resources for developing oocytes and larval nourishment, respectively. Once in the milk gland however, lipids are apparently transferred into the developing larva not by lipophorin but by another carrier lipoprotein.
PMCID: PMC3209505  PMID: 21875592
Lipid movement; lipophorin; tsetse development; Glossina
14.  Functional role of aspartic proteinase cathepsin D in insect metamorphosis 
Metamorphosis is a complex, highly conserved and strictly regulated development process that involves the programmed cell death of obsolete larval organs. Here we show a novel functional role for the aspartic proteinase cathepsin D during insect metamorphosis.
Cathepsin D of the silkworm Bombyx mori (BmCatD) was ecdysone-induced, differentially and spatially expressed in the larval fat body of the final instar and in the larval gut of pupal stage, and its expression led to programmed cell death. Furthermore, BmCatD was highly induced in the fat body of baculovirus-infected B. mori larvae, suggesting that this gene is involved in the induction of metamorphosis of host insects infected with baculovirus. RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated BmCatD knock-down inhibited programmed cell death of the larval fat body, resulting in the arrest of larval-pupal transformation. BmCatD RNAi also inhibited the programmed cell death of larval gut during pupal stage.
Based on these results, we concluded that BmCatD is critically involved in the programmed cell death of the larval fat body and larval gut in silkworm metamorphosis.
PMCID: PMC1629011  PMID: 17062167
15.  Transcriptomic analysis of developmental features of Bombyx mori wing disc during metamorphosis 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):820.
Wing discs of B. mori are transformed to pupal wings during the larva-to-pupa metamorphosis with dramatic morphological and structural changes. To understand these changes at a transcriptional level, RNA-seq of the wing discs from 6-day-old fifth instar larvae (L5D6), prepupae (PP) and pupae (P0) was performed.
In total, 12,254 transcripts were obtained from the wing disc, out of which 5,287 were identified to be differentially expressed from L5D6 to PP and from PP to P0. The results of comprehensive analysis of RNA-seq data showed that during larvae-to-pupae metamorphosis, many genes of 20E signaling pathway were up-regulated and those of JH signaling pathway were down-regulated. Seventeen transcription factors were significantly up-regulated. Cuticle protein genes (especially wing cuticle protein genes), were most abundant and significantly up-regulated at P0 stage. Genes responsible for the degradation and de novo synthesis of chitin were significantly up-regulated. There were A and B two types of chitin synthases in B. mori, whereas only chitin synthase A was up-regulated. Both trehalose and D-fructose, which are precursors of chitin synthesis, were detected in the hemolymph of L5D6, PP and P0, suggesting de novo synthesis of chitin. However, most of the genes that are related to early wing disc differentiation were down-regulated.
Extensive transcriptome and DGE profiling data of wing disc during metamorphosis of silkworm have been generated, which provided comprehensive gene expression information at the transcriptional level. These results implied that during the larva-to-pupa metamorphosis, pupal wing development and transition might be mainly controlled by 20E signaling in B. mori. The 17 up-regulated transcription factors might be involved in wing development. Chitin required for pupal wing development might be generated from both degradation of componential chitin and de novo synthesis. Chitin synthase A might be responsible for the chitin synthesis in the pupal wing, while both trehalose and D-fructose might contribute to the de novo synthesis of chitin during the formation of pupal wing.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-820) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4196006  PMID: 25261999
B. mori; Wing disc; Metamorphosis; Transcriptome; RNA-Seq
16.  Molecular Expression of the Scribble Complex Genes, Dlg, Scrib and Lgl, in Silkworm, Bombyx mori 
Genes  2013;4(2):264-274.
The Scribble protein complex genes, consisting of lethal giant larvae (Lgl), discs large (Dlg) and scribble (Scrib) genes, are components of an evolutionarily conserved genetic pathway that links the cell polarity in cells of humans and Drosophila. The tissue expression and developmental changes of the Scribble protein complex genes were documented using qRT-RCR method. The Lgl and Scrib genes could be detected in all the experimental tissues, including fat body, midgut, testis/ovary, wingdisc, trachea, malpighian tubule, hemolymph, prothoracic gland and silk gland. The Dlg gene, mainly expressed only in testis/ovary, could not be detected in prothoracic gland and hemolymph. In fat body, there were two higher expression stages of the three genes. The highest peak of the expression of the Lgl and Scrib genes in wingdisc lay at the 1st day of the 5th instar, but the Dlg gene was at 3rd day of 5th instar. The above results indicate that Scribble complex genes are involved in the process of molting and development of the wingdisc in the silkworm. This will be useful in the future for the elucidation of the detailed biological function of the three genes Scrib, Dlg and Lgl in B. mori.
PMCID: PMC3899976  PMID: 24705163
lethal giant larvae; discs large; scribble; developmental expression; tissue expression; Bombyx mori
17.  Vitellogenin Receptor Mutation Leads to the Oogenesis Mutant Phenotype “scanty vitellin” of the Silkworm, Bombyx mori* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(19):13345-13355.
Background: The vitellogenin receptor (VgR) mediates the uptake of vitellogenin (Vg) from the hemolymph by developing oocytes.
Results: VgR with the mutational EGF1 domain can bind ligand proteins but cannot be dissociated under acidic conditions. The mutant is lethal in embryos.
Conclusion: Bombyx mori VgR (BmVgR) has an important role in egg formation and embryonic development.
Significance: BmVgR is a potential target for pest control.
In insects, the vitellogenin receptor (VgR) mediates the uptake of vitellogenin (Vg) from the hemolymph by developing oocytes. The oogenesis mutant scanty vitellin (vit) of Bombyx mori (Bm) lacks vitellin and 30-kDa proteins, but B. mori egg-specific protein and BmVg are normal. The vit eggs are white and smaller compared with the pale yellow eggs of the wild type and are embryonic lethal. This study found that a mutation in the B. mori VgR gene (BmVgR) is responsible for the vit phenotype. We cloned the cDNA sequences encoding WT and vit BmVgR. The functional domains of BmVgR are similar to those of other low-density lipoprotein receptors. When compared with the wild type, a 235-bp genomic sequence in vit BmVgR is substituted for a 7-bp sequence. This mutation has resulted in a 50-amino acid deletion in the third Class B region of the first epidermal growth factor (EGF1) domain. BmVgR is expressed specifically in oocytes, and the transcriptional level is changed dramatically and consistently with maturation of oocytes during the previtellogenic periods. Linkage analysis confirmed that BmVgR is mutated in the vit mutant. The coimmunoprecipitation assay confirmed that mutated BmVgR is able to bind BmVg but that BmVg cannot be dissociated under acidic conditions. The WT phenotype determined by RNA interference was similar to that of the vit phenotype for nutritional deficiency, such as BmVg and 30-kDa proteins. These results showed that BmVgR has an important role in transporting proteins for egg formation and embryonic development in B. mori.
PMCID: PMC3650373  PMID: 23515308
Development; Lipids; Lipid Transport; Receptor Endocytosis; Silkworm; Low-density Lipoprotein Receptor; Mutation; Oogenesis; Vitellogenin Receptor
18.  KAIKObase: An integrated silkworm genome database and data mining tool 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:486.
The silkworm, Bombyx mori, is one of the most economically important insects in many developing countries owing to its large-scale cultivation for silk production. With the development of genomic and biotechnological tools, B. mori has also become an important bioreactor for production of various recombinant proteins of biomedical interest. In 2004, two genome sequencing projects for B. mori were reported independently by Chinese and Japanese teams; however, the datasets were insufficient for building long genomic scaffolds which are essential for unambiguous annotation of the genome. Now, both the datasets have been merged and assembled through a joint collaboration between the two groups.
Integration of the two data sets of silkworm whole-genome-shotgun sequencing by the Japanese and Chinese groups together with newly obtained fosmid- and BAC-end sequences produced the best continuity (~3.7 Mb in N50 scaffold size) among the sequenced insect genomes and provided a high degree of nucleotide coverage (88%) of all 28 chromosomes. In addition, a physical map of BAC contigs constructed by fingerprinting BAC clones and a SNP linkage map constructed using BAC-end sequences were available. In parallel, proteomic data from two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in various tissues and developmental stages were compiled into a silkworm proteome database. Finally, a Bombyx trap database was constructed for documenting insertion positions and expression data of transposon insertion lines.
For efficient usage of genome information for functional studies, genomic sequences, physical and genetic map information and EST data were compiled into KAIKObase, an integrated silkworm genome database which consists of 4 map viewers, a gene viewer, and sequence, keyword and position search systems to display results and data at the level of nucleotide sequence, gene, scaffold and chromosome. Integration of the silkworm proteome database and the Bombyx trap database with KAIKObase led to a high-grade, user-friendly, and comprehensive silkworm genome database which is now available from URL: .
PMCID: PMC2770533  PMID: 19843344
19.  Functional Interpretation of a Non-Gut Hemocoelic Tissue Aminopeptidase N (APN) in a Lepidopteran Insect Pest Achaea janata 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79468.
Insect midgut membrane-anchored aminopeptidases N (APNs) are Zn++ dependent metalloproteases. Their primary role in dietary protein digestion and also as receptors in Cry toxin-induced pathogenesis is well documented. APN expression in few non-gut hemocoelic tissues of lepidopteran insects has also been reported but their functions are widely unknown. In the present study, we observed specific in vitro interaction of Cry1Aa toxin with a 113 kDa AjAPN1 membrane protein of larval fat body, Malpighian tubule and salivary gland of Achaea janata. Analyses of 3D molecular structure of AjAPN1, the predominantly expressed APN isoform in these non-gut hemocoelic tissues of A. janata showed high structural similarity to the Cry1Aa toxin binding midgut APN of Bombyx mori, especially in the toxin binding region. Structural similarity was further substantiated by in vitro binding of Cry1Aa toxin. RNA interference (RNAi) resulted in significant down-regulation of AjAPN1 transcript and protein expression in fat body and Malpighian tubule but not in salivary gland. Consequently, reduced AjAPN1 expression resulted in larval mortality, larval growth arrest, development of lethal larval-pupal intermediates, development of smaller pupae and emergence of viable defective adults. In vitro Cry1Aa toxin binding analysis of non-gut hemocoelic tissues of AjAPN1 knockdown larvae showed reduced interaction of Cry1Aa toxin with the 113 kDa AjAPN1 protein, correlating well with the significant silencing of AjAPN1 expression. Thus, our observations suggest AjAPN1 expression in non-gut hemocoelic tissues to play important physiological role(s) during post-embryonic development of A. janata. Though specific interaction of Cry1Aa toxin with AjAPN1 of non-gut hemocoelic tissues of A. janata was demonstrated, evidences to prove its functional role as a Cry1Aa toxin receptor will require more in-depth investigation.
PMCID: PMC3828369  PMID: 24244508
20.  Precocious Metamorphosis in the Juvenile Hormone–Deficient Mutant of the Silkworm, Bombyx mori 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002486.
Insect molting and metamorphosis are intricately governed by two hormones, ecdysteroids and juvenile hormones (JHs). JHs prevent precocious metamorphosis and allow the larva to undergo multiple rounds of molting until it attains the proper size for metamorphosis. In the silkworm, Bombyx mori, several “moltinism” mutations have been identified that exhibit variations in the number of larval molts; however, none of them have been characterized molecularly. Here we report the identification and characterization of the gene responsible for the dimolting (mod) mutant that undergoes precocious metamorphosis with fewer larval–larval molts. We show that the mod mutation results in complete loss of JHs in the larval hemolymph and that the mutant phenotype can be rescued by topical application of a JH analog. We performed positional cloning of mod and found a null mutation in the cytochrome P450 gene CYP15C1 in the mod allele. We also demonstrated that CYP15C1 is specifically expressed in the corpus allatum, an endocrine organ that synthesizes and secretes JHs. Furthermore, a biochemical experiment showed that CYP15C1 epoxidizes farnesoic acid to JH acid in a highly stereospecific manner. Precocious metamorphosis of mod larvae was rescued when the wild-type allele of CYP15C1 was expressed in transgenic mod larvae using the GAL4/UAS system. Our data therefore reveal that CYP15C1 is the gene responsible for the mod mutation and is essential for JH biosynthesis. Remarkably, precocious larval–pupal transition in mod larvae does not occur in the first or second instar, suggesting that authentic epoxidized JHs are not essential in very young larvae of B. mori. Our identification of a JH–deficient mutant in this model insect will lead to a greater understanding of the molecular basis of the hormonal control of development and metamorphosis.
Author Summary
The number of larval instars in insects varies greatly across insect taxa and can even vary at the intraspecific level. However, little is known about how the number of larval instars is fixed in each species or modified by the environment. The silkworm, Bombyx mori, provides a unique bioresource for investigating this question, as there are several “moltinism” strains that exhibit variations in the number of larval molts. The present study describes the first positional cloning of a moltinism gene. We performed genetic and biochemical analyses on the dimolting (mod) mutant, which shows precocious metamorphosis with fewer larval–larval molts. We found that mod is a juvenile hormone (JH)–deficient mutant that is unable to synthesize JH, a hormone that prevents precocious metamorphosis and allows the larvae to undergo multiple rounds of larval–larval molts. This JH–deficient mutation is the first described to date in any insect species and, therefore, the mod strain will serve as a useful model for elucidating the molecular mechanism of JH action. Remarkably, precocious larval–pupal transition in mod larvae does not occur in the first or second instar, suggesting that morphostatic action of JH is not necessary for young larvae of B. mori.
PMCID: PMC3297569  PMID: 22412378
21.  Purification of the larvicidal toxin of Bacillus sphaericus and evidence for high-molecular-weight precursors. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1985;163(2):738-747.
Crystals were purified from spore-crystal complexes of Bacillus sphaericus 2362 by disruption in a French pressure cell followed by centrifugation through 48% (wt/vol) NaBr. Crystals from such preparations had a 50% lethal concentration of 6 ng of protein per ml for the larvae of the mosquito Culex pipiens. When subjected to polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis under denaturing conditions, the proteins in B. sphaericus crystals migrated in positions corresponding to 43, 63, 98, 110, and 125 kilodaltons (kDa); solubilization of the crystal at pH 12 with NaOH eliminated all but the bands at 43 and 63 kDa. Since NaOH-solubilized preparations were toxic to mosquito larvae, these proteins were purified to electrophoretic homogeneity and antiserum was obtained to each. Analysis of the two purified proteins indicated that the 43-kDa protein was toxic to mosquito larvae (50% lethal concentration, 35 ng of protein per ml), whereas the 63-kDa protein was not. Further differences between them were their amino acid compositions, their lack of immunological cross-reactivity, their opposite net charges at pH 7.5, and their susceptibility to digestion by larval midgut proteases (the 63-kDa protein was highly susceptible, whereas the 43-kDa protein was not). The sequence of the 40 N-terminal residues of the 43-kDa protein was determined and found to contain a high percentage of hydrophobic amino acids. The sequence of the 63-kDa protein could not be determined, since it had multiple N termini. By electrophoretically separating the crystal proteins and then electroblotting onto nitrocellulose paper and visualizing the bands with antisera to the 43- and 63-kDa proteins in conjunction with an immunoblot assay, it was found that the high-molecular-mass crystal proteins (98 to 125 kDa) contained antigenic determinants of both proteins. These results suggested that the lower-molecular-weight crystal proteins detected in polyacrylamide gels after electrophoresis under denaturing conditions were derivatives of one or more of the higher-molecular-weight crystal proteins. In vivo studies of the products of crystal degradation by larvae of Culex pipiens indicated that the high-molecular-weight proteins and the 63-kDa antigenic determinants were rapidly degraded and that a 40-kDa protein related to the 43-kDa toxin persisted for the duration of the experiment (4 h). Some of the studies performed with B.sphaericus 2362 were extended to strains 1593, 1691, and 2297 of this species with results which indicated a high degree of similarity between the crystal proteins of all these larvicidal strains.
PMCID: PMC219184  PMID: 3926751
22.  Delivery of circulating lipoproteins to specific neurons in the Drosophila brain regulates systemic insulin signaling 
eLife  2014;3:e02862.
The Insulin signaling pathway couples growth, development and lifespan to nutritional conditions. Here, we demonstrate a function for the Drosophila lipoprotein LTP in conveying information about dietary lipid composition to the brain to regulate Insulin signaling. When yeast lipids are present in the diet, free calcium levels rise in Blood Brain Barrier glial cells. This induces transport of LTP across the Blood Brain Barrier by two LDL receptor-related proteins: LRP1 and Megalin. LTP accumulates on specific neurons that connect to cells that produce Insulin-like peptides, and induces their release into the circulation. This increases systemic Insulin signaling and the rate of larval development on yeast-containing food compared with a plant-based food of similar nutritional content.
eLife digest
How does an animal sense if it is well nourished or not, and then regulate its metabolism appropriately? This process largely relies on the animal's body deciphering signals that that are transmitted between different organs in the form of molecules and hormones. Many animals—ranging from insects to mammals (including humans)—also use their brains to sense and decipher these nutritional signals.
A signaling pathway involving the hormone insulin controls how various different animals grow and develop—and how long they will live—based on these animals' food intake. Insulin is produced in mammals by an organ called the pancreas. But in the fruit fly Drosophila, this hormone is produced by cells within different tissues, including the insect’s brain.
The fruit fly is used to study many biological processes because it is easy to work with in a laboratory. Insulin-producing cells make and release insulin-like molecules into the insect's hemolymph (a blood-like fluid) in response to sugar and to other nutrients (which are detected via molecules generated in a fruit fly organ called the fat body). The fat body produces lipophorin, a protein which carries fat molecules in the hemolymph, and which is known to be able to move from the hemolymph to the brain and accumulate within the brain. The fat body also produces lipid transfer protein (or LTP), which transfers fats absorbed or made within the insect's gut onto lipophorin, and can also unload fat molecules to other insect cells. If LTP can also enter the brain, and what it might do there, was unclear.
Brankatschk et discover that LTP can cross the ‘blood brain barrier’ in fruit fly larvae and can accumulate over time on their insulin-producing cells and the neurons in direct contact with these cells. This accumulation depends on the flies’ diet: flies fed a diet made from yeast cells accumulated LTP on these neurons, while those fed only on sugar and proteins did not.
Furthermore Brankatschk et al. found that when they switched flies from a yeast-based to a plant-based diet, the larvae grew more slowly and the flies lived longer. Both of the diets contained abundant calories and nutrients, but contained slightly different kinds of fat molecules. The fly larvae on the plant-based diet also accumulated less LTP on their insulin-pathway neurons, and insulin signaling was reduced.
Branskatschk et al. also found that fat molecules from the yeast-based diet activated the cells of the blood brain barrier, and that this encouraged LTP to be transported the brain. Blocking LTP from crossing the blood brain barrier reduced insulin signaling, slowed the growth of the fly larvae, and extended the lifespan of the flies.
These findings of Brankatschk et al. thus reveal that fat-containing molecules carry information about specific nutrients to the brain. The extent to which these mechanisms operate in other animals—such as mammals—remains to be explored.
PMCID: PMC4210815  PMID: 25275323
lipoprotein; insulin; blood brain barrier; D. melanogaster
23.  Translationally Controlled Tumor Protein, a Dual Functional Protein Involved in the Immune Response of the Silkworm, Bombyx mori 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69284.
Insect gut immunity is the first line of defense against oral infection. Although a few immune-related molecules in insect intestine has been identified by genomics or proteomics approach with comparison to well-studied tissues, such as hemolymph or fat body, our knowledge about the molecular mechanism underlying the gut immunity which would involve a variety of unidentified molecules is still limited. To uncover additional molecules that might take part in pathogen recognition, signal transduction or immune regulation in insect intestine, a T7 phage display cDNA library of the silkworm midgut is constructed. By use of different ligands for biopanning, Translationally Controlled Tumor Protein (TCTP) has been selected. BmTCTP is produced in intestinal epithelial cells and released into the gut lumen. The protein level of BmTCTP increases at the early time points during oral microbial infection and declines afterwards. In vitro binding assay confirms its activity as a multi-ligand binding molecule and it can further function as an opsonin that promotes the phagocytosis of microorganisms. Moreover, it can induce the production of anti-microbial peptide via a signaling pathway in which ERK is required and a dynamic tyrosine phosphorylation of certain cytoplasmic membrane protein. Taken together, our results characterize BmTCTP as a dual-functional protein involved in both the cellular and the humoral immune response of the silkworm, Bombyx mori.
PMCID: PMC3718729  PMID: 23894441
24.  Functional Analysis of Two Lebocin-Related Proteins from Manduca sexta 
Insects produce a group of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in response to microbial infections. Most AMPs are synthesized as inactive precursors/pro-proteins and require proteolytic processing to generate small active peptides. Here we report identification and functional analysis of two lebocin-related proteins (Leb-B and Leb-C) from the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. The mRNA levels of Leb-B and Leb-C increased significantly in larval fat body and hemocytes after injection of Escherichia coli, Micrococcus luteus and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Western blotting using rabbit polyclonal antibody to Leb-B showed accumulation of large protein(s) and small peptide(s) in larval hemolymph after microbial injection. This result and the presence of RXXR motifs in the deduced amino acid sequences led to our postulation that Leb-B/C may be inactive precursors that are processed in larval hemolymph to generate short active peptides. To test this hypothesis, we expressed and purified full-length and various fragments of Leb-B and Leb-C as thioredoxin (TRX) fusion proteins. We found that fusion proteins could be cleaved by induced larval plasma, and the cleavage sites were determined by protein sequencing. Antibacterial activity of peptide fragments was also verified using synthetic peptides, and active M. sexta lebocin peptides were located at the N-termini of Leb-B/C, which are different from Bombyx mori lebocins 1–4 that are located close to the C-termini. In addition, we found that synthetic Leb-B22–48 peptide not only had higher antibacterial activity but also caused agglutination of E. coli cells. Our results provide valuable information for studying processing of lebocin precursors in lepidopteran insects.
PMCID: PMC3288250  PMID: 22198332
Antimicrobial peptide; Lebocin; Insect immunity; Manduca sexta
25.  In Vivo Expression and Immunological Studies of the 42-Kilodalton Carboxyl-Terminal Processing Fragment of Plasmodium falciparum Merozoite Surface Protein 1 in the Baculovirus-Silkworm System  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(6):2772-2779.
The 42-kDa carboxyl-terminal processing fragment of Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP-142) is an anti-erythrocytic stage malaria vaccine candidate. In this study, MSP-142 was expressed by using the Bombyx mori nuclear polyhedrosis virus-silkworm expression system, and the antigenicity and immmunogenicity of the recombinant protein, Bmp42, were evaluated. The average yield of Bmp42, as determined by a sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), was 379 μg/ml of infected silkworm hemolymph, which was >100-fold higher than the level attainable in cell culture medium. N-terminal amino acid sequencing revealed that Bmp42 was correctly processed in silkworm cells. Data from immunoblotting, as well as from the inhibition ELISA, suggested that the conformational B-cell epitopes of MSP-142 were recreated in Bmp42. Immunization of rabbits with Bmp42 in complete Freund's adjuvant generated high-titer antibody responses against the immunogen. Specificity analyses of the anti-Bmp42 antibodies using several recombinant MSP-119 proteins expressing variant and conserved B-cell epitopes suggested that the anti-Bmp42 antibodies recognized primarily conserved epitopes on MSP-119. Furthermore, the anti-Bmp42 antibodies were highly effective in inhibiting the in vitro growth of parasites carrying homologous or heterologous MSP-142. Our results demonstrated that the baculovirus-silkworm expression system could be employed to express biologically and immunologically active recombinant MSP-142 at elevated levels; thus, it is an attractive alternative for producing a protective MSP-142 vaccine for human use.
PMCID: PMC127970  PMID: 12010962

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