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Eur J Biochem. 1997 Nov 1;249(3):797-802.

Change in the mode of gene expression of the hypopharyngeal gland cells with an age-dependent role change of the worker honeybee Apis mellifera L.

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Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Major proteins synthesized in the hypopharyngeal gland of the worker honeybee change from bee-milk proteins to alpha-glucosidase in accordance with the age-dependent role change of the worker bee. Previously, we showed that the gene for alpha-glucosidase is expressed specifically in the forager-bee gland [Ohashi, K., Sawata, M., Takeuchi, H., Natori, S. & Kubo, T. (1996) Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 221, 380-385]. Here, we describe the isolation and analysis of cDNAs for two bee-milk 56-kDa and 64-kDa proteins. The 56-kDa protein was a glycoprotein which shared 63.2% and 56.9% amino acid sequence identities with proteins encoded by cDNA for royal-jelly-related protein 57-1 (pRJP57-1) and pRJP57-2. The 64-kDa protein cDNA was identical to pRJP57-1. Thus, these bee-milk proteins seem to form a structurally related protein family. The gene for the 64-kDa protein/RJP57-1 was expressed specifically in the nurse-bee gland, whereas that for the 56-kDa protein was expressed in both the nurse-bee and forager-bee glands. mRNAs for the 56-kDa and 64-kDa proteins were detected by in situ hybridization in a whole acinus of the nurse-bee gland, whereas mRNAs for the 56-kDa protein and alpha-glucosidase were detected in that of the forager-bee gland. Therefore, the individual secretory cells of the acinus of the hypopharyngeal gland were shown to express these genes differently with the age-dependent role change of the worker bee.

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