Molecular cloning and characterization of juvenile hormone acid methyltransferase in the honey bee, Apis mellifera, and its differential expression during caste differentiation.
ABSTRACT: Juvenile hormone acid methyltransferase (JHAMT) is an enzyme involved in one of the final steps of juvenile hormone biosynthesis in insects. It transfers a methyl group from S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) to the carboxyl group of either farnesoic acid (FA) or JH acid (JHA). Several genes coding for JHAMT have been cloned and characterized from insects from different orders, and they have been shown to play critical roles in metamorphosis and reproduction. However, the significance of JHAMT in Hymenopteran insects is unknown. We used RACE amplification method to clone JHAMT cDNA from the honey bee, Apis mellifera (AmJHAMT). The full length cDNA of AmJHAMT that we cloned is 1253bp long and encodes a 278-aa protein that shares 32-36% identity with known JHAMTs. A SAM-binding motif, conserved in the SAM-dependent methyltransferase (SAM-MT) superfamily, is present in AmJHAMT. Its secondary structure also contains a typical SAM-MT fold. Most of the active sites bound with SAM and substrates (JHA or FA) are conserved in AmJHAMT as in other JHAMT orthologs. Phylogenetic analysis clustered AmJHAMT with the other orthologs from Hymenoptera to form a major clade in the phylogenetic tree. Purified recombinant AmJHAMT protein expressed in E. coli was used to produce polyclonal antibodies and to verify the identity of AmJHAMT by immunoblotting and mass spectrometry. Quantitative RT-PCR and immunoblotting analyses revealed that queen larvae contained significantly higher levels of AmJHAMT mRNA and protein than worker larvae during the periods of caste development. The temporal profiles of both AmJHAMT mRNA and protein in queens and workers showed a similar pattern as the JH biosynthesis. These results suggest that the gene that we cloned codes for a functional JHAMT that catalyzes the final reactions of JH biosynthesis in honey bees. In addition, AmJHAMT may play an important role in honey bee caste differentiation.
Project description:Juvenile hormone (JH) acid methyltransferase (JHAMT) is an enzyme that converts JH acids or inactive precursors of JHs to active JHs at the final step of JH biosynthesis pathway in insects. By fluorescent mRNA differential display, we have cloned a cDNA encoding JHAMT from the corpora allata (CA) of the silkworm, Bombyx mori (BmJHAMT). The BmJHAMT cDNA encodes an ORF of 278 aa with a calculated molecular mass of 32,544 Da. The predicted amino acid sequence contains a conserved S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) binding motif found in the family of SAM-dependent methyltransferases. Purified N-terminal 6xHis-tagged recombinant BmJHAMT protein expressed in Escherichia coli catalyzed conversion of farnesoic acid and JH acids I, II, and III to their cognate methyl esters in the presence of SAM, confirming that this cDNA encodes a functional JHAMT. Putative orthologs, DmJHAMT and AgJHAMT, were identified from the genome sequence of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and a malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae, respectively. Northern blot and quantitative RT-PCR analyses revealed that the BmJHAMT gene was expressed specifically in the CA throughout the third and fourth instar. At the beginning of the last (fifth) instar, the expression level of BmJHAMT declined rapidly and became undetectable by day 4 and remained so until pupation. Correlation of the BmJHAMT gene expression and the JH biosynthetic activity in the CA suggests that the transcriptional suppression of the BmJHAMT gene is crucial for the termination of JH biosynthesis in the CA, which is a prerequisite for the initiation of metamorphosis.
Project description:Juvenile hormones (JHs) play key roles in regulating metamorphosis and reproduction in insects. The last two steps of JH synthesis diverge depending on the insect order. In Lepidoptera, epoxidation by a P450 monooxygenase precedes esterification by a juvenile hormone acid methyltransferase (JHAMT). In Orthoptera, Dictyoptera, Coleoptera and Diptera epoxidation follows methylation. The aim of our study was to gain insight into the structural basis of JHAMT's substrate recognition as a means to understand the divergence of these pathways. Homology modeling was used to build the structure of Aedes aegypti JHAMT. The substrate binding site was identified, as well as the residues that interact with the methyl donor (S-adenosylmethionine) and the carboxylic acid of the substrate methyl acceptors, farnesoic acid (FA) and juvenile hormone acid (JHA). To gain further insight we generated the structures of Anopheles gambiae, Bombyx mori, Drosophila melanogaster and Tribolium castaneum JHAMTs. The modeling results were compared with previous experimental studies using recombinant proteins, whole insects, corpora allata or tissue extracts. The computational study helps explain the selectivity toward the (10R)-JHA isomer and the reduced activity for palmitic and lauric acids. The analysis of our results supports the hypothesis that all insect JHAMTs are able to recognize both FA and JHA as substrates. Therefore, the order of the methylation/epoxidation reactions may be primarily imposed by the epoxidase's substrate specificity. In Lepidoptera, epoxidase might have higher affinity than JHAMT for FA, so epoxidation precedes methylation, while in most other insects there is no epoxidation of FA, but esterification of FA to form MF, followed by epoxidation to JH III.
Project description:Juvenile hormone (JH) controls key events in the honey bee life cycle, viz. caste development and age polyethism. We quantified transcript abundance of 24 genes involved in the JH biosynthetic pathway in the corpora allata-corpora cardiaca (CA-CC) complex. The expression of six of these genes showing relatively high transcript abundance was contrasted with CA size, hemolymph JH titer, as well as JH degradation rates and JH esterase (jhe) transcript levels. Gene expression did not match the contrasting JH titers in queen and worker fourth instar larvae, but jhe transcript abundance and JH degradation rates were significantly lower in queen larvae. Consequently, transcriptional control of JHE is of importance in regulating larval JH titers and caste development. In contrast, the same analyses applied to adult worker bees allowed us inferring that the high JH levels in foragers are due to increased JH synthesis. Upon RNAi-mediated silencing of the methyl farnesoate epoxidase gene (mfe) encoding the enzyme that catalyzes methyl farnesoate-to-JH conversion, the JH titer was decreased, thus corroborating that JH titer regulation in adult honey bees depends on this final JH biosynthesis step. The molecular pathway differences underlying JH titer regulation in larval caste development versus adult age polyethism lead us to propose that mfe and jhe genes be assayed when addressing questions on the role(s) of JH in social evolution.
Project description:Regardless of genetic makeup, a female honey bee becomes a queen or worker depending on the food she receives as a larva. For decades, it has been known that nutrition and juvenile hormone (JH) signaling determine the caste fate of the individual bee. However, it is still largely unclear how these factors are connected. To address this question, we suppressed nutrient sensing by RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene knockdown of IRS (insulin receptor substrate) and TOR (target of rapamycin) in larvae reared on queen diet. The treatments affected several layers of organismal organization that could play a role in the response to differential nutrition between castes. These include transcript profiles, proteomic patterns, lipid levels, DNA methylation response and morphological features. Most importantly, gene knockdown abolished a JH peak that signals queen development and resulted in a worker phenotype. Application of JH rescued the queen phenotype in either knockdown, which demonstrates that the larval response to JH remains intact and can drive normal developmental plasticity even when IRS or TOR transcript levels are reduced. We discuss our results in the context of other recent findings on honey bee caste and development and propose that IRS is an alternative substrate for the Egfr (epidermal growth factor receptor) in honey bees. Overall, our study describes how the interplay of nutritional and hormonal signals affects many levels of organismal organization to build different phenotypes from identical genotypes.
Project description:The Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri, transmits a phloem-limited bacterium, Candidatus 'Liberibacter' asiaticus that causes citrus greening disease. Because juvenile hormone (JH) plays an important role in adult and nymphal development, we studied the final steps in JH biosynthesis in D. citri. A putative JH acid methyltransferase ortholog gene (jmtD) and its cognate cDNA were identified by searching D. citri genome database. Expression analysis shows expression in all life stages. In adults, it is expressed in the head-thorax, (containing the corpora allata), and the abdomen (containing ovaries and male accessory glands). A 3D protein model identified the catalytic groove with catalytically active amino acids and the S-adenosyl methionine (SAM)-binding loop. The cDNA was expressed in Escherichia coli cells and the purified enzyme showed high preference for farnesoic acid (FA) and homoFA (kcat of 0.752 × 10(-3) and 0.217 × 10(-3) s(-1), respectively) as compared to JH acid I (JHA I) (cis/trans/cis; 2Z, 6E, 10cis), JHA III (2E, 6E, 10cis), and JHA I (trans/cis/cis; 2E, 2Z, 10cis) (kcat of 0.081 × 10(-3), 0.013 × 10(-3), and 0.003 × 10(-3) s(-1), respectively). This suggests that this ortholog is a DcFA-o-methyl transferase gene (fmtD), not a jmtD, and that JH biosynthesis in D. citri proceeds from FA to JH III through methyl farnesoate (MF). DcFA-o-MT does not require Ca(2+), Mg(2+) or Zn(2+), however, Zn(2+) (1 mM) completely inhibits the enzyme probably by binding H115 at the active groove. This represents the first purified FA-o-MT from Hemiptera with preferred biological activity for FA and not JHA.
Project description:Insect female reproduction which comprises the synthesis of vitellogenein (Vg) in the fat body and its incorporation into developing oocytes, needs a large amount of energy and food resources. Our previous studies found that juvenile hormone (JH) regulates vitellogenesis in the brown planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens. Here, we report on the role of JH in nutrient-regulated Vg synthesis and egg development. We first cloned the genes coding for juvenile hormone acid methyltransferase (JHAMT) which is involved in JH biosynthesis and methoprene-tolerant (Met) for JH action. Amino acids (AAs) induced the expression of jmtN, while showing no effects on the expression of met using an artificial diet culture system. Reduction in JH biosynthesis or its action by RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated silencing of jmtN or met led to a severe inhibition of AAs-induced Vg synthesis and oocyte maturation, together with lower fecundity. Furthermore, exogenous application of JH III partially restored Vg expression levels in jmtN RNAi females. However, JH III application did not rescue Vg synthesis in these met RNAi insects. Our results show that AAs induce Vg synthesis in the fat body and egg development in concert with JH biosynthesis in Nilaparvata lugens (Stål), rather than through JH action.
Project description:Juvenile hormones (JHs) are key regulators of insect development and reproduction. The JH biosynthetic pathway is known to involve 13 discrete enzymatic steps. In the present study, we have characterized the JH biosynthetic pathway in the cockroach Diploptera punctata. The effect of exogenous JH precursors on JH biosynthesis was also determined. Based on sequence similarity, orthologs for the genes directly involved in the pathway were cloned, and their spatial and temporal transcript profiles were determined. The effect of shutting down the JH pathway in adult female cockroaches was studied by knocking down genes encoding HMG-CoA reductase (HMGR) and Juvenile hormone acid methyltransferase (JHAMT). As a result, oocyte development slowed as a consequence of reduction in JH biosynthesis. Oocyte length, fat body transcription of Vg and ovarian vitellin content significantly decreased. In addition, silencing HMGR and JHAMT resulted in a decrease in the transcript levels of other genes in the pathway.
Project description:The food a honey bee female larva receives determines whether she develops into a large long-lived fertile queen or a short-lived sterile worker. Through well-established nutrient-sensing and growth-promoting functions in metazoans, the insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 signaling (IIS) pathway has become a focal topic in investigations on how differences in food environment can be translated into internal signals responsible for queen-worker determination. However, low expression levels of two insulin receptors (AmInRs) in honey bee larvae and the failure of one AmInR to influence caste differentiation are in potential conflict with such a classical growth-promoting role of IIS in queen-worker development. In view of such an apparent contradiction, and the fact that binding partners and affinities of these two AmInRs have not been worked out, we performed a functional study on insulin-like peptide genes (AmILP1 and AmILP2) in honey bee larvae by using a double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-mediated gene knockdown approach. We found that juvenile hormone (JH) levels were diminished by AmILP1 dsRNA treatment, while the AmILP2 knockdown caused a reduction in ovary size. Blood sugar titers were not significantly affected by the treatments. From these results we conclude that AmILP2 transcript levels may influence specific organ development, such as the ovary and body mass, while more general traits of caste differentiation, such as mandibles, may require additional regulators. In addition, JH production may be regulated by AmILP1 expressed locally in the brain, similar to the function of certain ILPs in Drosophila.
Project description:Juvenile hormone (JH), synthesized by the corpora allata (CA), controls development and reproduction in mosquitoes through its action on thousands of JH-responsive genes. These JH-dependent processes can be studied using tools that increase or decrease JH titers in vitro and in vivo. Juvenile hormone acid methyl transferase (JHAMT) is a critical JH biosynthetic enzyme. JHAMT utilizes the methyl donor S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM) to methylate farnesoic acid (FA) into methyl farnesoate (MF), releasing the product S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine (AdoHcy), which inhibits JHAMT. S-adenosyl-homocysteine hydrolase (SAHH) catalyzes AdoHcy hydrolysis to adenosine and homocysteine, alleviating AdoHcy inhibition of JHAMT. 3-deazaneplanocin A (DZNep), an analog of adenosine, is an inhibitor of SAHH, and an epigenetic drug for cancer therapy. We tested the effect of DZNep on in vitro JH synthesis by CA of mosquitoes. DZNep inhibited JH synthesis in a dose-response fashion. Addition of MF, but not of FA relieved the inhibition, demonstrating a direct effect on JHAMT. In vivo experiments, with addition of DZNep to the sugar ingested by mosquitoes, resulted in a dose-response decrease in JH synthesis and JH hemolymphatic titers, as well as expression of early trypsin, a JH-dependent gene. Our studies suggest that DZNep can be employed to lower JH synthesis and titer in experiments evaluating JH-controlled processes in mosquitoes.
Project description:Social cohesion in social insect colonies can be achieved through the use of chemical signals whose production is caste-specific and regulated by social contexts. In honey bees, queen mandibular gland pheromones (QMP) maintain reproductive dominance by inhibiting ovary activation and production of queen-like mandibular gland signals in workers. We investigated whether honey bee queens can control reproductively active workers of the intraspecific social parasite Apis mellifera capensis, parasitising A. m. scutellata host colonies. Our results show that the queen's QMP suppresses ovarian activation and inhibits the production of QMP pheromone signals by the parasitic workers, achieved through differential expression of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of these pheromones at two points in the biosynthetic pathway. This is the first report showing that honey bee queens can regulate reproduction in intraspecific social parasites and deepens our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of worker reproduction in social insects.