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Expression of autophagy-related genes in the anterior silk gland of the silkworm (Bombyx mori) during metamorphosis

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Programmed cell death (PCD) is a genetically regulated process of cell elimination and is evolutionarily conserved in eukaryotes. Degeneration of larval tissues during metamorphosis in insects is a result of PCD triggered by ecdysteroids and autophagic process has been shown to be involved in the degeneration of silk gland of the silkworm (Bombyx mori L., 1758). However, experimental evidence for the expression of autophagy marker genes remains insufficient. In this study, expression of the autophagy-related genes BmAtg5, BmAtg6, BmAtg8, and BmAtg12 was determined in the anterior silk glands of larvae and pupae during larval to pupal transformation by using reverse-transcription PCR, quantitative real-time PCR, and Western blot analyses. The results indicated that BmAtg5, BmAtg6, BmAtg8, and BmAtg12 had the highest expression levels on the 3rd day of the wandering stage or at the prepupal stage, and the time frame of the expression of these genes was coincident with the morphological characteristics of autophagy in the silk gland during the larval to pupal transformation. This study demonstrated that the autophagy-related genes are involved in the degeneration of the anterior silk gland of B. mori.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Guangdong Provincial Key Lab of Biotechnology for Plant Development, School of Life Sciences, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, 510631, China. 2: Laboratory of Insect Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, College of Animal Science, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, 510642, China. 3: Department of Biotechnology and Life Sciences, University of Insubria, via J.H. Dunant 3, 21100 Varese, Italy.

Publication date: November 26, 2011

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