Background: Juvenile hormones (JH) and ecdysteroids control postembryonic development in insects. They serve as valuable targets for pest management. Hence, understanding the molecular mechanisms of their action is of crucial importance. CREB-binding protein (CBP) is a universal transcriptional co-regulator. It controls the expression of several genes including those from hormone signaling pathways through co-activation of many transcription factors. However, the role of CBP during postembryonic development in insects is not well understood. Therefore, we have studied the role of CBP in postembryonic development in Tribolium, a model coleopteran insect.

Results: CBP is ubiquitously expressed in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum. RNA interference (RNAi) mediated knockdown of CBP resulted in a decrease in JH induction of Kr-h1 gene expression in Tribolium larvae and led to a block in their development. Moreover, the injection of CBP double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) showed lethal phenotypes within 8 days of injection. RNA-seq and subsequent differential gene expression analysis identified CBP target genes in Tribolium. Knockdown of CBP caused a decrease in the expression of 1306 genes coding for transcription factors and other proteins associated with growth and development. Depletion of CBP impaired the expression of several JH response genes (e.g., Kr-h1, Hairy, early trypsin) and ecdysone response genes (EcR, E74, E75, and broad complex). Further, GO enrichment analyses of the downregulated genes showed enrichment in different functions including developmental processes, pigmentation, anatomical structure development, regulation of biological and cellular processes, etc.

Conclusion: These data suggest diverse but crucial roles for CBP during postembryonic development in the coleopteran model insect, Tribolium. It can serve as a target for RNAi mediated pest management of this stored product pest.

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Published in BMC Genomics, v. 18, 996, p. 1-14.

© The Author(s). 2017

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

A correction to this article is available as the additional file listed below and online at https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-018-4939-8.

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This work is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (GM070559-11) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, HATCH under 2351177000.

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We have deposited the short read (Illumina HiSeq4000) data with the following accession numbers, Study, PRJNA383401 and SRP104247; Samples, SRS2131977-SRS2131984); Experiment, SRX2745604-SRX2745604- SRX2745610 and Run, SRR5457553- SRR5457559.

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