• RNAi;
  • silkworm;
  • proleg;
  • E-complex genes;
  • abd-A


Larvae of many holometabolous insects possess abdominal appendages called prolegs. Lepidoptera larvae have prolegs in the segments A3–A6. Functions of Lepidoptera hox genes on these abdominal appendages development is still a controversial issue. In this article, we report the use of double strand RNA (dsRNA)-mediated interference (RNAi) to dissect the function of some hox genes, specifically E-complex genes Ubx, abd-A, and Abd-B, in the ventral appendage development of the Lepidoptera silkworm, Bombyx mori. We found that Ubx RNAi caused leg identity in A1 segment, abd-A RNAi caused severe defect of abdominal prolegs and Abd-B RNAi allowed proleg identity in more posterior abdominal segments. These results confirm that Lepidoptera hox genes Ubx and Abd-B have evolved the repressing function to ventral appendage development, which is similar to those of Drosophila. However, Lepidoptera abd-A might have been modified distinctively during evolution, and has important roles in directing the development of prolegs. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.