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Keywords:

  • ribosomal protein S3a;
  • RNAi;
  • diapause;
  • Culex pipiens;
  • ovarian development

Abstract

Arrested ovarian development is a key characteristic of adult diapause in the mosquito Culex pipiens. In this study we propose that ribosomal protein S3a (rpS3a), a small ribosomal subunit, contributes to this shutdown. RpS3a is consistently expressed in females of C. pipiens that do not enter diapause, but in females programmed for diapause, expression of the rpS3a transcript is dramatically reduced for a brief period in early diapause (7–10 days after adult eclosion). RNA interference directed against rpS3a in nondiapausing females arrested follicle development, mimicking the diapause state. The effect of the dsRNA injection faded within 10 days, allowing the follicles to grow again, thus the suppression of rpS3a caused by RNAi did not permanently block ovarian development, implying that a brief suppression of rpS3a is not the only factor contributing to the diapause response. The arrest in development that we observed in dsRNA-injected females could be reversed with a topical application of juvenile hormone III, an endocrine trigger known to terminate diapause in this species. Though we speculate that many genes contribute to the diapause syndrome in C. pipiens, our results suggest that a shut down in the expression of rpS3a is one of the important components of this developmental response.