The common bed bug is an obligate hematophagous parasite of humans. We studied the regulation of molting and metamorphosis in bed bugs with a goal to identify key players involved. qRT-PCR studies on the expression of genes known to be involved in molting and metamorphosis showed high levels of Krüppel homolog 1 [Kr-h1, a transcription factor that plays key roles in juvenile hormone (JH) action] mRNA in the penultimate nymphal stage (N4). However, low levels of Kr-h1 mRNA were detected in the fifth and last nymphal stage (N5). Knockdown of Kr-h1 in N4 resulted in a precocious development of adult structures. Kr-h1 maintains the immature stage by suppressing E93 (early ecdysone response gene) in N4. E93 expression increases during the N5 in the absence of Kr-h1 and promotes the development of adult structures. Knockdown of E93 in N5 results in the formation of supernumerary nymphs. The role of JH in the suppression of adult structures through interaction with Kr-h1 and E93 was also studied by the topical application of JH analog, methoprene, to N5. Methoprene induced Kr-h1 and suppressed E93 and induced formation of the supernumerary nymph. These data show interactions between Kr-h1, E93 and JH in the regulation of metamorphosis in the bed bugs.

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Published in Scientific Reports, v. 6, article no. 26092, p. 1-10.

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National Institutes of Health Grant (GM070559-10) to SRP supported this work.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, HATCH under 2351177000 support this work.

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This is publication number 16-08-044 from the Kentucky Agricultural Experimental Station and published with the approval of the director.

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