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J Biochem. 1996 Feb;119(2):291-5.

Change in the expression of hypopharyngeal-gland proteins of the worker honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) with age and/or role.

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Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo.


The roles of adult worker honeybees change with age; young workers nurse brood by secreting bee milk (royal jelly), and older workers forage for nectar and pollen and process nectar into honey. The electrophoretic profile of worker hypopharyngeal-gland proteins changes with age and/or role. Immunoblotting analysis using affinity-purified antibodies against three major proteins (50, 56, and 64 kDa) of the nurse-bee gland showed that they are synthesized selectively and secreted as bee-milk proteins. Immunofluorescence study showed that the proteins condense in the duct after secretion from acini. However, a major 70-kDa protein synthesized specifically in the forager-bee hypopharyngeal gland was identified as an alpha-glucosidase. Therefore, the hypopharyngeal gland seems to have two distinct states differentiated by synthesizing of different major proteins depending on the age-dependent role change.

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