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Mech Dev. 2008 Mar-Apr;125(3-4):299-313. Epub 2007 Nov 17.

Transcription factor broad suppresses precocious development of adult structures during larval-pupal metamorphosis in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum.

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Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546, United States.


Broad (br), a transcription factor containing the Broad-Tramtrack-Bric-a-brac (BTB) and zinc finger domains was shown to mediate 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) action and pupal development in Drosophila melanogaster and Manduca sexta. We determined the key roles of br during larval-pupal metamorphosis using RNA interference (RNAi) in a coleopteran insect, Tribolium castaneum. Two major peaks of T. castaneum broad (Tcbr) mRNA, one peak at the end of feeding stage prior to the larvae entering the quiescent stage and another peak during the quiescent stage were detected in the whole body and midgut tissue dissected from staged insects. Expression of br during the final instar larval stage is essential for successful larval-pupal metamorphosis, because, RNAi-mediated knock-down of Tcbr during this stage derailed larval-pupal metamorphosis and produced insects that showed larval, pupal and adult structures. Tcbr dsRNA injected into the final instar larvae caused reduction in the mRNA levels of genes known to be involved in 20E action (EcRA, E74 and E75B). Tcbr dsRNA injected into the final instar larvae also caused an increase in the mRNA levels of JH-response genes (JHE and Kr-h1b). Knock-down of Tcbr expression also affected 20E-mediated remodeling of midgut during larval-pupal metamorphosis. These data suggest that the expression of Tcbr during the final instar larval stage promotes pupal program while suppressing the larval and adult programs ensuring a transitory pupal stage in holometabolous insects.

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