Soldier caste-specific gene expression in the mandibular glands of Hodotermopsis japonica (Isoptera: Termopsidae)

Toru Miura, Azusa Kamikouchi, Miyuki Sawata, Hideaki Takeuchi, Syunji Natori, Takeo Kubo, Tadao Matsumoto

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94 Citations (Scopus)


Although 'polymorphic castes' in social insects are well known as one of the most important phenomena of polyphenism, few studies of caste-specific gene expressions have been performed in social insects. To identify genes specifically expressed in the soldier caste of the Japanese damp-wood termite Hodotermopsis japonica, we employed the differential-display method using oligo(dT) and arbitrary primers, compared mRNA from the heads of mature soldiers and pseudergates (worker caste), and identified a clone (PCR product) 329 bp in length termed SOL1. Northern blot analysis showed that the SOL1 mRNA is about 1.0 kb in length and is expressed specifically in mature soldiers, but not in pseudergates, even in the presoldier induction by juvenile hormone analogue, suggesting that the product is specific for terminally differentiated soldiers. By using the method of 5'- and 3'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends, we isolated the full length of SOL1 cDNA, which contained an ORF with a putative signal peptide at the N terminus. The sequence showed no significant homology with any other known protein sequences. In situ hybridization analysis showed that SOL1 is expressed specifically in the mandibular glands. These results strongly suggest that the SOL1 gene encodes a secretory protein specifically synthesized in the mandibular glands of the soldiers. Histological observations revealed that the gland actually develops during the differentiation into the soldier caste.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13874-13879
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Nov 23 1999
Externally publishedYes

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