Molecular Analysis of Nutritional and Hormonal Regulation of Female Reproduction in the Red Flour Beetle, Tribolium castaneum


Female reproduction includes maturation of oocytes and the synthesis of yolk proteins (vitellogenin, Vg) in the fat body and their deposition into the oocytes. Our recent studies showed that juvenile hormone (JH) regulates Vg synthesis and 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) regulates oocyte maturation in the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum). Here, we report on the role of nutritional signaling on vitellogenesis and oogenesis. Comparison of gene expression between fed and starved beetles by microarray analysis showed the up-regulation of genes involved in energy homeostasis and down-regulation of genes involved in egg production in the starved beetles. The RNA interference (RNAi) aided knock-down in the expression of genes involved in insulin and TOR signaling pathways showed that both these signaling pathways play key roles in Vg synthesis and oocyte maturation. Starvation of female beetles resulted in a block in Vg synthesis but not in the progression of primary oocyte development to the resting stage. Feeding after starvation induced Vg synthesis and the progression of primary oocytes from the resting stage to the mature stage. However, in the beetles where JH or 20E synthesis or action was blocked by RNAi, both Vg synthesis and oocyte maturation were affected suggesting that both these hormones (JH and 20E) and nutritional signaling and their cross-talk regulate vitellogenesis and oogenesis.

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Published in Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, v. 41, issue 5, p. 294–305.

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