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J Mol Evol. 1999 Aug;49(2):290-7.

The family of major royal jelly proteins and its evolution.

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  • 1Laboratory of Genetic Engineering, Institute of Chemistry, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská cesta 9, SK-842 38 Bratislava, Slovakia.


A cDNA encoding a new member of the gene family of major royal jelly proteins (MRJPs) from the honeybee, Apis mellifera, was isolated and sequenced. Royal jelly (RJ) is a secretion of the cephalic glands of nurse bees. The origin and biological function of the protein component (12.5%, w/w) of RJ is unknown. We show that the MRJP gene family encodes a group of closely related proteins that share a common evolutionary origin with the yellow protein of Drosophila melanogaster. Yellow protein functions in cuticle pigmentation in D. melanogaster. The MRJPs appear to have evolved a novel nutritional function in the honeybee.

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