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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Nov 23;96(24):13874-9.

Soldier caste-specific gene expression in the mandibular glands of Hodotermopsis japonica (Isoptera: termopsidae).

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  • 1Departmant of Biology, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Komaba 3-8-1, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan. cmiu@mail.ecc.u-tokyo.ac.jp


Although "polymorphic castes" in social insects are well known as one of the most important phenomena of polyphenism, few studies of caste-specific gene expressions have been performed in social insects. To identify genes specifically expressed in the soldier caste of the Japanese damp-wood termite Hodotermopsis japonica, we employed the differential-display method using oligo(dT) and arbitrary primers, compared mRNA from the heads of mature soldiers and pseudergates (worker caste), and identified a clone (PCR product) 329 bp in length termed SOL1. Northern blot analysis showed that the SOL1 mRNA is about 1.0 kb in length and is expressed specifically in mature soldiers, but not in pseudergates, even in the presoldier induction by juvenile hormone analogue, suggesting that the product is specific for terminally differentiated soldiers. By using the method of 5'- and 3'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends, we isolated the full length of SOL1 cDNA, which contained an ORF with a putative signal peptide at the N terminus. The sequence showed no significant homology with any other known protein sequences. In situ hybridization analysis showed that SOL1 is expressed specifically in the mandibular glands. These results strongly suggest that the SOL1 gene encodes a secretory protein specifically synthesized in the mandibular glands of the soldiers. Histological observations revealed that the gland actually develops during the differentiation into the soldier caste.

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