[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phenotypic plasticity is ubiquitous and primarily controlled by interactions between environmental and genetic factors. The migratory locust, a worldwide pest, exhibits pronounced phenotypic plasticity, which is a population density-dependent transition that occurs between the gregarious and solitary phases. Genes involved in dopamine synthesis have been shown to regulate the phase transition of locusts. However, the function of microRNAs in this process remains unknown. In this study, we report the participation of miR-133 in dopamine production and the behavioral transition by negatively regulating two critical genes, henna and pale, in the dopamine pathway. miR-133 participated in the post-transcriptional regulation of henna and pale by binding to their coding region and 3' untranslated region, respectively. miR-133 displayed cellular co-localization with henna/pale in the protocerebrum, and its expression in the protocerebrum was negatively correlated with henna and pale expression. Moreover, miR-133 agomir delivery suppressed henna and pale expression, which consequently decreased dopamine production, thus resulting in the behavioral shift of the locusts from the gregarious phase to the solitary phase. Increasing the dopamine content could rescue the solitary phenotype, which was induced by miR-133 agomir delivery. Conversely, miR-133 inhibition increased the expression of henna and pale, resulting in the gregarious-like behavior of solitary locusts; this gregarious phenotype could be rescued by RNA interference of henna and pale. This study shows the novel function and modulation pattern of a miRNA in phenotypic plasticity and provides insight into the underlying molecular mechanisms of the phase transition of locusts.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Locusts exhibit remarkable density-dependent phenotype (phase) changes from the solitary to the gregarious, making them one of the most destructive agricultural pests. This phenotype polyphenism arises from a single genome and diverse transcriptomes in different conditions. Here we report a de novo transcriptome for the migratory locust and a comprehensive, representative core gene set. We carried out assembly of 21.5 Gb Illumina reads, generated 72,977 transcripts with N50 2,275 bp and identified 11,490 locust protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis with eight other sequenced insects was carried out to identify the genomic divergence between hemimetabolous and holometabolous insects for the first time and 18 genes relevant to development was found. We further utilized the quantitative feature of RNA-seq to measure and compare gene expression among libraries. We first discovered how divergence in gene expression between two phases progresses as locusts develop and identified 242 transcripts as candidates for phase marker genes. Together with the detailed analysis of deep sequencing data of the 4(th) instar, we discovered a phase-dependent divergence of biological investment in the molecular level. Solitary locusts have higher activity in biosynthetic pathways while gregarious locusts show higher activity in environmental interaction, in which genes and pathways associated with regulation of neurotransmitter activities, such as neurotransmitter receptors, synthetase, transporters, and GPCR signaling pathways, are strongly involved. Our study, as the largest de novo transcriptome to date, with optimization of sequencing and assembly strategy, can further facilitate the application of de novo transcriptome. The locust transcriptome enriches genetic resources for hemimetabolous insects and our understanding of the origin of insect metamorphosis. Most importantly, we identified genes and pathways that might be involved in locust development and phase change, and may thus benefit pest management.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(12):e15633. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: All the reports on insect small RNAs come from holometabolous insects whose genome sequence data are available. Therefore, study of hemimetabolous insect small RNAs could provide more insights into evolution and function of small RNAs in insects. The locust is an important, economically harmful hemimetabolous insect. Its phase changes, as a phenotypic plasticity, result from differential gene expression potentially regulated at both the post-transcriptional level, mediated by small RNAs, and the transcriptional level.
Here, using high-throughput sequencing, we characterize the small RNA transcriptome in the locust. We identified 50 conserved microRNA families by similarity searching against miRBase, and a maximum of 185 potential locust-specific microRNA family candidates were identified using our newly developed method independent of locust genome sequence. We also demonstrate conservation of microRNA*, and evolutionary analysis of locust microRNAs indicates that the generation of miRNAs in locusts is concentrated along three phylogenetic tree branches: bilaterians, coelomates, and insects. Our study identified thousands of endogenous small interfering RNAs, some of which were of transposon origin, and also detected many Piwi-interacting RNA-like small RNAs. Comparison of small RNA expression patterns of the two phases showed that longer small RNAs were expressed more abundantly in the solitary phase and that each category of small RNAs exhibited different expression profiles between the two phases.
The abundance of small RNAs in the locust might indicate a long evolutionary history of post-transcriptional gene expression regulation, and differential expression of small RNAs between the two phases might further disclose the molecular mechanism of phase changes.