Transcriptional activation of pro-apoptotic genes in response to cytotoxic stimuli is a conserved feature of the cell death pathway in metazoans. However, understanding the extent of this conservation in insects has been limited by the lack of known pro-apoptotic genes in non-drosophilids. Recently, we described the pro-apoptotic genes, Asrpr and Ashid, from the tephritid, Anastrepha suspensa, that now allow us to explore the conservation of pro-apoptotic gene regulation between a tephritid and drosophilids. In this study, we determined the developmental profiles of Asrpr and Ashid transcripts during embryogenesis and in embryos exposed to γ-irradiation. Transcript levels of both genes determined by qRT-PCR were low throughout embryogenesis, with strong Ashid expression occurring during early to mid-embryogenesis and Asrpr expression peaking in late embryogenesis. This correlated to acridine orange stained apoptotic cells first appearing at 17 h and increasing over time. However, when irradiated at 16 h post-oviposition embryos exhibited significant levels of apoptosis consistent with strong induction of Asrpr and Ashid transcript levels by γ-irradiation in young embryos <24 h post-oviposition. Furthermore, embryos irradiated <24 h post-oviposition failed to hatch, those irradiated between 24 and 32 h had increased hatching rates, but between 48 and 72 h irradiation had no effect on egg hatching. This indicates a transition of embryos from an irradiation-sensitive to irradiation-resistance stage between 24 and 48 h. Throughout post-embryonic development, the two pro-apoptotic genes share similar patterns of up-regulated gene expression, which correlate to ecdysone-induced developmental events, especially during metamorphosis. Together these results provide the first direct evidence for a conserved molecular mechanism of the programmed cell death pathway in insects.
AshidAsrprIrradiation Ecdysteroids Cell death Tephritids
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We thank Dr. Chris Geden for assistance with irradiation protocols. Funding from the USDA-NIFA-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and the Biotechnology Risk Assessment Program (Grant #2011-39211-30769) (AMH), Emmy Noether program SCHE 1833/1 of the German Research Foundation (MFS), and the LOEWE Center for Insect Biotechnology & Bioresources (MFS) are gratefully acknowledged.
Conflict of interest
All authors declare no conflict of interest.
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