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Keywords:

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

Abstract

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.