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Molecular and cellular basis of caste differentiation in the honey bee (Apis mellifera L., Hymenoptera)


Phenotypic plasticity is an adaptive response contingent on a genome/environment interaction during development. In social insects, such plastiity is evidenced in the form of divergent phenotypes, denominated castes. Functional genomic approaches to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying caste development in the honey bee are now greatly facilitated by its completely sequenced genome. In the current project we will investigate in an integrated manner three major aspects of caste development. The first aspect concerns programmed cell death occurring in the larval ovaries. To investigate this phenomenon we will generate subtractive libraries. The differential expression of genes identified in these screens will then be validated with respect to their potential role in thel development of the ovaries in queen and worker larvae. In this context we will also investigate the role of cadherins in the formation of follicles in adult queens and workers. This will be done by the production of specific antibodies against cadherin orthologs of Apis mellifera. The second aspect to be investigated is the sex and caste-specific development of the compound eye. This will involve histological analyses and assaying cell proliferation in the developing eye structures. In addition, we will perform analyses of the differential expression of candidate genes, such as the locus roughest, and of genes indicated as developmentally regulated in subtractive libraries. In the third aspect to be investigated we will try to integrate the divergent development of these organs with the general hormonal coordination of postembryonic development. We will specifically address the question of the functionality of the insulin/insulin-like signaling (IIS) pathway by analyzing the expresssion of honey bee IIS pathway orthologs and by assaying the phosphorylation status of the insulin receptor. We will then try to relate the integration of this nutrition-dependent pathway with signaling via juvenile hormone and ecdysteroids, the major morphogenetic hormones controling and synchronizing metamorphosis. (AU)

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
AZEVEDO, SERGIO VICENTE; MARTINEZ CARANTON, OMAR ARVEY; DE OLIVEIRA, TATIANE LIPPI; HARTFELDER, KLAUS. Differential expression of hypoxia pathway genes in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) caste development. JOURNAL OF INSECT PHYSIOLOGY, v. 57, n. 1, p. 38-45, JAN 2011. Web of Science Citations: 16.

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