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Insulin signaling pathway in caste varieties development in honey bees and labor division

Grant number: 07/04859-5
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2008
Effective date (End): May 31, 2011
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics
Principal Investigator:Klaus Hartmann Hartfelder
Grantee:Sergio Vicente de Azevedo
Home Institution: Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto (FMRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil


In the honey bee, Apis mellifera, the female castes, queen and worker, show differences in their anatomy, physiology and behaviors, which enhance efficiency in the reproductive tasks performed by the queen and maintenance of the beehive by the workers, respectively. The differentiation of the castes into a worker or queen phenotype depends on the diet offered to the female larvae during the growth period. This causes differences in the titers of the morphogenetic hormones juvenile hormone and ecdysteroids. While these hormones have important functions in the subsequent differentiation of organs and tissues, which eventually will culminate in the expression of different phenotypes, information about mechanisms able to integrate the signal provided by the diet with the endocrine system is still lacking. Recent studies in insects, including Apis mellifera, have pointed to the role of the insulin signaling pathway (IIS) as a possible cue integrating the nutritional stimulus with the developmental response in each caste. This is of interest because the insulin signaling module is highly conserved in metazoans, as it allows the organism to adapt to the prevailing nutritional conditions. This project aims at establishing the relationship between the components of the IIS pathway with the differentiation of the female honey bee castes, and to investigate the role of this pathway in the division of labor among adult workers. The transcriptional profiles of genes involved in the IIS pathway (InR1, InR2, ILP1 and ILP2) will be investigated by qRT-PCR, during the critical larval phases of caste development and in adult workers. Going beyond these analyses of transcriptional profiling, we will also use three functional approaches: first, the analysis of the activation pattern of insulin receptor by Western Blotting with specific antibodies to the phosphorylated form of these receptor tyrosin kinases; second, the silencing of the insulin receptor genes by dsRNA application; and third, a pharmacological inhibition of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), an essential IIS element, by Wortmaninn. The treated bees will be analyzed with respect to morphology, rates of insulin receptor (InR1 and InR2) and insulin-like peptide (ILP1 and ILP2) transcription, and their juvenile hormone titer will be determined by RIA. The relationship of the IIS pathway with division of labor among adult workers will be verified using single cohort colonies and analyzing by qRT-PCR the transcriptional profiles of IIS genes (InR1, InR2, ILP1 and ILP2) in workers performing different tasks.

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)
LEONE, FRANCISCO A.; GARCON, DANIELA P.; LUCENA, MALSON N.; FALEIROS, ROGERIO O.; AZEVEDO, SERGIO V.; PINTO, MARCELO R.; MCNAMARA, JOHN C. Gill-specific (Na+, K+)-ATPase activity and alpha-subunit mRNA expression during low-salinity acclimation of the ornate blue crab Callinectes ornatus (Decapoda, Brachyura). COMPARATIVE BIOCHEMISTRY AND PHYSIOLOGY B-BIOCHEMISTRY & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, v. 186, p. 59-67, AUG 2015. Web of Science Citations: 12.
WANG, YING; AZEVEDO, SERGIO V.; HARTFELDER, KLAUS; AMDAM, GRO V. Insulin-like peptides (AmILP1 and AmILP2) differentially affect female caste development in the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.). Journal of Experimental Biology, v. 216, n. 23, p. 4347-4357, DEC 2013. Web of Science Citations: 21.
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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