Expression of amylase and glucose oxidase in the hypopharyngeal gland with an age-dependent role change of the worker honeybee (Apis mellifera L.)


T. Kubo, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan. Fax: + 81 3 5684 2973, Tel.: + 81 3 5841 4821, E-mail:


Worker honeybees change their behaviour from the role of nurse to that of forager with age. We have isolated cDNA clones for two honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) genes, encoding α-amylase and glucose oxidase homologues, that are expressed in the hypopharyngeal gland of forager bees. The predicted amino acid sequence of the putative Apis amylase showed 60.5% identity with Drosophila melanogasterα-amylase, whereas that of Apis glucose oxidase showed 23.8% identity with Aspergillus niger glucose oxidase. To determine whether the isolated cDNAs actually encode these enzymes, we purified amylase and glucose oxidase from homogenized forager-bee hypopharyngeal glands. We sequenced the N-terminal regions of the purified enzymes and found that they matched the corresponding cDNAs. mRNAs for both enzymes were detected by Northern blotting in the hypopharyngeal gland of the forager bee but not in the nurse-bee gland. These results clearly indicate that expression of the genes for these carbohydrate-metabolizing enzymes, which are needed to process nectar into honey, in the hypopharyngeal gland is associated with the age-dependent role change of the worker.