Get access

RNA interference mortality points to noncircadian functions for the clock gene in the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria


Julie Tobback, Naamsestraat 59 box 2465, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. Tel.: + 32 16324260; e-mail:


One of the core genes in the circadian regulation network is clock (clk). By forming a heterodimer with CYCLE (CYC) that binds on an E-box in the promoter region, it induces the transcription of other elements in the circadian transcriptional feedback loops and different clock output genes. In contrast to other insects, a clk double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) treatment is lethal in adults and fifth instar nymphs of the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, in a dose-dependent manner. Clk knock down fifth instar nymphs are able to undergo their imaginal moult but, depending on the amount of dsRNA, it takes them longer than the controls to reach adulthood. As adults, clk knock down animals do not develop their fat body and ovaries like the control animals. Therefore, we tested the expression of different genes involved in energy metabolism and reproduction to see the effect of the clk RNA interference knock down. Surprisingly, the expression of the vitellogenin gene was up-regulated in the clk knock down females who did not appear to invest their energy in egg development. Taken together, our results point out that the clk gene in the desert locust has an additional function in development besides its established role in maintaining the circadian rhythms in the brain.