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Insect Mol Biol. 2017 Apr;26(2):181-189. doi: 10.1111/imb.12283. Epub 2016 Nov 23.

Insect cold hardiness: the role of mitogen-activated protein kinase and Akt signalling in freeze avoiding larvae of the goldenrod gall moth, Epiblema scudderiana.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


Larvae of the goldenrod gall moth, Epiblema scudderiana, use the freeze avoidance strategy of cold hardiness to survive the winter. Here we report that protein kinase-dependent signal transduction featuring mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling cascades (extracellular signal regulated kinase, c-jun N-terminal kinase and p38 MAPK pathways) and the Akt (also known as protein kinase B, or PKB) pathway could be integral parts of the development of cold hardiness by E. scudderiana. We used Luminex technology to assess the protein levels and phosphorylation status of key components and downstream targets of those pathways in larvae in response to low temperature acclimation. The data showed that MAPK pathways (both total protein and phosphorylated MAPK targets) were inhibited after 5°C acclimation, but not -15°C exposure, as compared with the 15°C control group. However, total heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) levels increased dramatically by ∼12-fold in the -15°C acclimated insects. Elevated HSP27 may facilitate anti-apoptotic mechanisms in an Akt-dependent fashion. By contrast, both 5 and -15°C acclimation produced signs of Akt pathway activation. In particular, the inhibitor phosphorylated Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3a (p-GSK3) levels remained high in cold-exposed larvae. Additionally, activation of the Akt pathway might also facilitate inhibition of apoptosis independently of GSK3. Overall, the current study indicates that both MAPK and Akt signal transduction may play essential roles in freeze avoidance by E. scudderiana.


Akt; freeze avoidance; insect cold hardiness; mitogen-activated protein kinase

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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