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J Insect Physiol. 2010 Nov;56(11):1638-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2010.06.008. Epub 2010 Jul 2.

Mars is close to venus--female reproductive proteins are expressed in the fat body and reproductive tract of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) drones.

Author information

1
Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil. nicolonello@terra.com.br

Abstract

Vitellogenin (Vg) and lipophorin (Lp) are lipoproteins which play important roles in female reproductive physiology of insects. Both are actively taken up by growing oocytes and especially Vg and its receptor are considered as female-specifically expressed. The finding that the fat body of in honey bee (Apis mellifera) drones synthesizes Vg and is present in hemolymph has long been viewed as a curiosity. The recent paradigm change concerning the role played by Vg in honey bee life history, especially social division of labor, has now led us to investigate whether a physiological constellation similar to that seen in female reproduction may also be represented in the male sex. By means of Western blot analysis we could show that both Vg and Lp are present in the reproductive tract of adult drones, including the accessory (mucus) glands, but apparently are not secreted. Furthermore, we analyzed the transcript levels of the genes encoding these proteins (vg and lp), as well as their putative receptors (Amvgr and Amlpr) in fat body and accessory glands. Whereas lp, vg and Amlpr transcript levels decreased with age in both tissues, Amvgr mRNA levels increased with age in fat body. To our knowledge this is the first report that vitellogenin and its receptor are co-expressed in the reproductive system of a male insect. We interpret these findings as a cross-sexual transfer of a social physiological trait, associated with the rewiring of the juvenile hormone/vitellogenin circuitry that occurred in the female sex of honey bees.

PMID:
20600084
DOI:
10.1016/j.jinsphys.2010.06.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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