In the broadest sense, metamorphosis is a developmental process by which an immature organism is transformed into a sexually mature adult. In insects, this process is characterized by the degeneration, or remodeling, of larval tissues and formation of the adult tissues from nests of precursor cells localized to specific regions of the larval body. To our knowledge, large-scale analysis of gene expression during metamorphosis was performed only in a model insect, Drosophila, by using microarrays composed of cDNA sequences representing only 30% to 40% of the estimated number of genes in the respective genome. Here, we propose a more comprehensive analysis of gene expression variation during metamorphosis. To this end, our purpose is to use the RNA seq (high-throughput RNA sequencing) methodology for sequencing the transcriptome of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) in the course of metamorphosis. With deep coverage and base-level resolution, the next-generation sequencing allows screening the differentially expressed genes during precise stages of metamorphosis, besides providing accurate measurements of transcript levels. Following sequencing, the resulting reads will be mapped to the genome of the honey bee. Besides capturing transcriptome dynamics across metamorphosis, a series of bioinformatics tools will enable: (1) to group these genes into classes according to their potential functions, (2) the searching for common sites in the gene promoter regions that could indicate regulation by transcription factors or hormones, thus allowing the construction of co-regulatory networks, (3) to establish the hierarchical gene expression networks acting during metamorphosis. Furthermore, we are proposing the use of workers and queens in this project in order to investigate caste-specific gene activity during metamorphosis. It is hoped that this approach reveals the wide panorama of the molecular genetics of metamorphosis.
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