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Chemical Biology

Differential Protein Expression in Honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) Larvae: Underlying Caste Differentiation
Published: Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Author: Jianke Li et al.

by Jianke Li, Jing Wu, Desalegn Begna Rundassa, Feifei Song, Aijuan Zheng, Yu Fang

Honeybee (Apis mellifera) exhibits divisions in both morphology and reproduction. The queen is larger in size and fully developed sexually, while the worker bees are smaller in size and nearly infertile. To better understand the specific time and underlying molecular mechanisms of caste differentiation, the proteomic profiles of larvae intended to grow into queen and worker castes were compared at 72 and 120 hours using two dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE), network, enrichment and quantitative PCR analysis. There were significant differences in protein expression between the two larvae castes at 72 and 120 hours, suggesting the queen and the worker larvae have already decided their fate before 72 hours. Specifically, at 72 hours, queen intended larvae over-expressed transketolase, aldehyde reductase, and enolase proteins which are involved in carbohydrate metabolism and energy production, imaginal disc growth factor 4 which is a developmental related protein, long-chain-fatty-acid CoA ligase and proteasome subunit alpha type 5 which metabolize fatty and amino acids, while worker intended larvae over-expressed ATP synthase beta subunit, aldehyde dehydrogenase, thioredoxin peroxidase 1 and peroxiredoxin 2540, lethal (2) 37 and 14-3-3 protein epsilon, fatty acid binding protein, and translational controlled tumor protein. This differential protein expression between the two caste intended larvae was more pronounced at 120 hours, with particular significant differences in proteins associated with carbohydrate metabolism and energy production. Functional enrichment analysis suggests that carbohydrate metabolism and energy production and anti-oxidation proteins play major roles in the formation of caste divergence. The constructed network and validated gene expression identified target proteins for further functional study. This new finding is in contrast to the existing notion that 72 hour old larvae has bipotential and can develop into either queen or worker based on epigenetics and can help us to gain new insight into the time of departure as well as caste trajectory influencing elements at the molecular level.