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Keywords:

  • brown planthopper;
  • chitin deacetylase;
  • phylogenetic analysis;
  • expression pattern;
  • RNA interference

Abstract

Chitin deacetylases (CDAs) are enzymes required for one of the pathways of chitin degradation, in which chitosan is produced by the deacetylation of chitin. Bioinformatic investigations with genomic and transcriptomic databases identified four genes encoding CDAs in Nilaparvata lugens (NlCDAs). Phylogenetic analysis showed that insect CDAs were clustered into five major groups. Group I, III and IV CDAs are found in all insect species, whereas the pupa-specific group II and gut-specific group V CDAs are not found in the plant-sap/blood-sucking hemimetabolous species from Hemiptera and Anoplura. The developmental and tissue-specific expression patterns of four NlCDAs revealed that NlCDA3 was a gut-specific CDA, with high expression at all developmental stages; NlCDA1, NlCDA2 and NlCDA4 were highly expressed in the integument and peaked periodically during every moulting, which suggests their roles in chitin turnover of the insect old cuticle. Lethal phenotypes of cuticle shedding failure and high mortality after the injection of double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) for NlCDA1, NlCDA2 and NlCDA4 provide further evidence for their functions associated with moulting. No observable morphological and internal structural abnormality was obtained in insects treated with dsRNA for gut-specific NlCDA3.