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Exp Gerontol. 2009 Sep;44(9):586-93. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2009.06.004. Epub 2009 Jun 27.

Age-and caste-dependent decrease in expression of genes maintaining DNA and RNA quality and mitochondrial integrity in the honeybee wing muscle.

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Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Aas, Norway.


I report here an investigation of the age- and caste-specific expression patterns of nine honeybee orthologs of genes involved in repair of oxidative and methylation damage of DNA, and possibly RNA, in wing muscle tissue of the honeybee Apis mellifera. mRNA expression levels were measured in a comparative study of queens and ageing workers. Two of these genes, both potentially involved in repair and prevention of oxidative damage, showed higher expression in queens than workers and a distinct downregulation during the ageing trajectory in workers. These were an ortholog of mammalian NTH1 and a gene encoding a fusion protein which seems to be unique for the honeybee, consisting of one domain homologous to mammalian MTH1/Nudix/bacterial mutT and another domain homologous to the mitochondrial ribosomal protein gene S23. Orthologs of aag, apn1, msh6, ogg1, smug1 and two orthologs of human ABH/E. coli alkB, had stable expression levels during the ageing trajectory except high apn1 levels in overwintering workers. To estimate eventual age-dependent mitochondrial maintenance, batches of mitochondrial DNA from young and old workers and young queens were re-sequenced using Solexa/Illumina high-throughput sequencing. The results indicate at least a 50% reduction of intact mitochondrial fragments in foragers compared to young workers, winter bees and queens.

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