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Regulatory functions of trehalose-6-phosphate synthase in the chitin biosynthesis pathway in Tribolium castaneum (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) revealed by RNA interference

  • Q.W. Chen (a1), S. Jin (a1), L. Zhang (a1), Q.D. Shen (a1), P. Wei (a1), Z.M. Wei (a2), S.G. Wang (a1) and B Tang (a1)...


RNA interference (RNAi) is a very effective technique for studying gene function and may be an efficient method for controlling pests. Trehalose-6-phosphate synthase (TPS), which plays a key role in the synthesis of trehalose and insect development, was cloned in Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) (TcTPS) and the putative functions were studied using RNAi via the injection of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) corresponding to conserved TPS and trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase domains. Expression analyses show that TcTPS is expressed higher in the fat body, while quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction results show that the expression of four trehalase isoforms was significantly suppressed by dsTPS injection. Additionally, the expression of six chitin synthesis-related genes, such as hexokinase 2 and glutamine-fructose-6-phosphate aminotransferase, was suppressed at 48 and 72 h post-dsTPS-1 and dsTPS-2 RNA injection, which were two dsTPS fragments that had been designed for two different locations in TcTPS open reading frame, and that trehalose content and trehalase 1 activity decreased significantly at 72 h post-dsRNA injection. Furthermore, T. castaneum injected with dsTPS-1 and dsTPS-2 RNA displayed significantly lower levels of chitin and could not complete the molting process from larvae to pupae, revealing abnormal molting phenotypes. These results demonstrate that silencing TPS gene leads to molting deformities and high mortality rates via regulation of gene expression in the chitin biosynthetic pathway, and may be a promising approach for pest control in the future.


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