Insect biochemistry and molecular biology

Identification and profiling of Manduca sexta microRNAs and their possible roles in regulating specific transcripts in fat body, hemocytes, and midgut.

PMID 25196249


Significance of microRNA-mediated posttranscriptional regulation has been appreciated ever since its discovery. In the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta, 164 conserved and 16 novel microRNAs have been identified experimentally (Zhang et al., 2012, 2014). To extend the list of microRNAs in this lepidopteran model species and further explore their possible regulatory roles, we constructed and sequenced small RNA libraries of M. sexta fat body, hemocytes and midgut, since transcriptomes of these tissues from the 5th instar larvae had been studied quite extensively. Each library represented a mixture of the same tissues from larvae that were naïve or induced by three different pathogens. From a total of 167 million reads obtained, we identified two new variants of conserved miR-281 and miR-305 and six novel microRNAs. Abundances of all microRNAs were normalized and compared to reveal their differential expression in these three tissues. Star strands of ten microRNAs were present at higher levels than the corresponding mature strands. From a list of tissue-specific transcripts, we predicted target sites in 3'-UTRs using preferentially expressed microRNA groups in each tissue and suggested possible regulatory roles of these microRNAs in energy metabolism, insecticide resistance, and some mitochondrial and immune gene expression. Examining manifold targets, microRNA regulations were suggested of multiple physiological processes. This study has enriched our knowledge of M. sexta microRNAs and how microRNAs potentially coordinate different physiological processes.