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Naturwissenschaften. 2010 Nov;97(11):971-9. doi: 10.1007/s00114-010-0713-8. Epub 2010 Sep 25.

Identification of a reproductive-specific, putative lipid transport protein gene in a queenless ponerine ant Diacamma sp.

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Laboratory of Ecological Genetics, Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, 060-0810, Japan.


Of the various characteristics of social insects, communication for reproductive differentiation is one of the most important and basic social interactions among colony members. To elucidate the molecular basis underlying this process, genes responsible for reproductive differentiation in Diacamma were screened using fluorescent differential display. Differential display, together with real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), revealed that a gene belonging to the family of cellular retinaldehyde-binding proteins was specifically expressed in the epidermis of the head, legs, and thorax in reproductives. The deduced protein sequence in the coding region, obtained by rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE)-PCR, was found to include cellular retinaldehyde-binding domain (CRAL-TRIO domain), suggesting that DiaCRALDCP functions in transportation of lipids, such as cuticular hydrocarbons. DiaCRALDCP transcript levels immediately decreased 1 day after the gemma mutilation, suggesting that DiaCRALDCP is involved in the physiological changes provoked by the behavioral regulation. Considering these results, the social functions of DiaCRALDCP in Diacamma are discussed.

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