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FEBS Lett. 2005 Sep 12;579(22):4961-5.

Vitellogenin regulates hormonal dynamics in the worker caste of a eusocial insect.

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  • 1Departamento de Genética, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil.


Functionally sterile honey bee workers synthesize the yolk protein vitellogenin while performing nest tasks. The subsequent shift to foraging is linked to a reduced vitellogenin and an increased juvenile hormone (JH) titer. JH is a principal controller of vitellogenin expression and behavioral development. Yet, we show here that silencing of vitellogenin expression causes a significant increase in JH titer and its putative receptor. Mathematically, the increase corresponds to a dynamic dose-response. This role of vitellogenin in the tuning of the endocrine system is uncommon and may elucidate how an ancestral pathway of fertility regulation has been remodeled into a novel circuit controlling social behavior.

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