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Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Jun 27;14(7):13433-46. doi: 10.3390/ijms140713433.

Cloning and functional characterization of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase from the Mediterranean species of the Whitefly Bemisia tabaci complex.

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Ministry of Agriculture Key Laboratory of Agricultural Entomology, Institute of Insect Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China.


c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling is a highly conserved pathway that controls gene transcription in response to a wide variety of biological and environmental stresses. In this study, a JNK from the invasive Mediterranean (MED) species of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci complex was cloned and characterized. The full-length JNK cDNA of MED consists of 1565 bp, with an 1176 bp open reading frame encoding 392 amino acids. Comparison of JNK amino acid sequences among different species showed that the sequences of JNKs are highly conserved. To reveal its biological function, the gene expression and functional activation of JNK were analyzed during various stress conditions. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis showed that the relative expression level of JNK remained hardly unchanged when the insects were transferred from cotton (a suitable host plant) to tobacco (an unsuitable host plant), infected with bacteria and treated with high and low temperatures. However, the mRNA level of JNK significantly increased when treated with fungal pathogens. Furthermore, we found that the amount of phosphorylated JNK increased significantly after fungal infection, while there is no obvious change for phosphorylated p38 and ERK. Our results indicate that the whitefly JNK plays an important role in whitefly's immune responses to fungal infection.

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