Changes in the gene expression profiles of the hypopharyngeal gland of worker honeybees in association with worker behavior and hormonal factors

Takayuki Ueno, Hideaki Takeuchi, Kiyoshi Kawasaki, Takeo Kubo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The hypopharyngeal glands (HPGs) of worker honeybees undergo physiological changes along with the age-dependent role change from nursing to foraging: nurse bee HPGs secrete mainly major royal jelly proteins, whereas forager HPGs secrete mainly α-glucosidase III, which converts the sucrose in the nectar into glucose and fructose.We previously identified two other genes, Apis mellifera buffy(Ambuffy) and Apis mellifera matrix metalloproteinase 1(AmMMP1), with enriched expression in nurse bee and forager HPGs, respectively. In the present study, to clarify the molecular mechanisms that coordinate HPG physiology with worker behavior, we first analyzed whether Ambuffy, AmMMP1, mrjp2(a gene encod ing one of major royal jelly protein isoforms), and Hbg3 (a gene encoding α-glucosidase III) expression, is associated with worker behavior in 'single-cohort colonies' where workers of almost the same age perform different tasks. Expression of these genes correlated with the worker's role, while controlling for age, indicating their regulation associated with the worker's behavior. Associated gene expression suggested the possible involvement of some hormonal factors in its regulation. We therefore examined the relationship between ecdysoneand juvenile hormone (JH)-signaling, and the expression profiles of these 'indicator' genes (nurse bee HPG-selective genes: mrjp2 and Ambuffy, and forager HPG-selective genes: Hbg3and AmMMP1). Expression of both ecdysone-regulated genes (ecdysone receptor, mushroom body large type Kenyon cell specific protein-1, and E74) and JHregulated genes (Methoprene tolerant and Krüppel homolog 1) was higher in the forager HPGs than in the nurse bee HPGs, suggesting the possible roles of ecdysone- and JHregulated genes in worker HPGs. Furthermore, 20-hydroxyecdysone-treatment repressed both nurse bee- and forager-selective gene expression, whereas methoprene-treatment enhanced the expression of forager-selective genes and repressed nurse bee-selective genes in the HPGs. Our findings suggest that both ecdysone- and JH-signaling cooperatively regulate the physiological state of the HPGs in association with the worker's behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0130206
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jun 17


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