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J Proteome Res. 2017 Oct 6;16(10):3646-3663. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.7b00371. Epub 2017 Sep 15.

Brain Membrane Proteome and Phosphoproteome Reveal Molecular Basis Associating with Nursing and Foraging Behaviors of Honeybee Workers.

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Institute of Apicultural Research/Key Laboratory of Pollinating Insect Biology, Ministry of Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science , Beijing, China.


The brain is a vital organ in regulating complex social behaviors of honeybees including learning and memory. Knowledge of how brain membrane proteins and their phosphorylation underlie the age-related behavioral polyethism is still lacking. A hitherto age-resolved brain membrane proteome and phosphoproteome were reported in adult worker bees from two strains of honeybee (Apis mellifera ligustica): Italian bee (ITB) and Royal Jelly bee (RJB), a line selected from ITB for increased RJ outputs over four decades. There were 1079 membrane protein groups identified, and 417 unique phosphosites were located in 179 membrane protein groups mainly phosphorylated by kinase families of MAPKs, CDKs, and CK2. Age-resolved dynamics of brain membrane proteome and phosphoproteome are indicative of their correlation with the neurobiological requirements during the adult life of honeybee workers. To stimulate immature brain cell development in newly emerged bees (NEBs), the enriched functional classes associated with metabolism of carbohydrates, nucleosides, and lipids by the up-regulated proteins suggest their enhanced role in driving cell maturity of the brain. In nurse bees (NBs) and forager bees (FBs), a higher number of membrane proteins and phosphoproteins were expressed as compared with in the young stages, and the enriched signal-transduction-related pathways by the up-regulated proteins suggest their significances in sustaining the intensive information processing during nursing and foraging activities. Notably, RJB has shaped unique membrane proteome and phosphoproteome settings to consolidate nursing and foraging behaviors in response to decades of selection underpinning the elevated RJ yields. In RJB NBs, the enriched pathways of phosphatidylinositol signaling and arachidonic acid metabolism indicate a stronger olfaction sensation in response to larval pheromone stimulation. In RJB FBs, the enriched pathways related to signal processing such as SNARE interactions in vesicular transport, wnt signaling, TGF-beta signaling, and taurine and hypotaurine metabolism suggest an enhanced nerve sensitivity to prime the stronger tendency to pollen collection. Our data gain a novel insight into membrane proteome and phosphoproteome-driven cerebral regulation of honeybee behaviors, which is potentially useful for further neurobiological investigation in both honeybees and other social insects.


behavior; brain; honeybee; membrane proteome; phosphoproteome; royal jelly

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