, Volume 146, Issue 4–5, pp 425–431 | Cite as

A reexamination on the deficiency of riboflavin accumulation in Malpighian tubules in larval translucent mutants of the silkworm, Bombyx mori

  • Haokun Zhang
  • Takashi Kiuchi
  • Chikara Hirayama
  • Yutaka Banno
  • Susumu Katsuma
  • Toru ShimadaEmail author
Original Paper


A variety of insects accumulate high contents of riboflavin (vitamin B2) in their Malpighian tubules (MTs). Although this process is known to be genetically controlled, the mechanism is not known. In the 1940s and the 1950s, several studies showed that riboflavin contents were low in the MTs of some Bombyx mori (silkworm) mutants with translucent larval skin mutations (e.g., w-3, od, oa, and otm) and that genes responsible for these translucent mutations also affected riboflavin accumulation in the MTs. Since the 2000s, it has been shown that the w-3 gene encodes an ABC transporter, whereas genes responsible for od, oa, and otm mutations encode for the biogenesis of lysosome-related organelles. These findings suggest that some genes of ABC transporters and biogenesis of lysosome-related organelles may control the accumulation of riboflavin in MTs. Therefore, we reexamined the effects that translucent mutations have on the accumulation of riboflavin in MTs by using the translucent and wild-type segregants in mutant strains to measure the specific effect that each gene has on riboflavin accumulation (independent of genomic background). We used nine translucent mutations (w-3oe, oa, od, otm, Obs, oy, or, oh, and obt) even though the genes responsible for some of these mutations (Obs, oy, or, oh, and obt) have not yet been isolated. Through observation of larval MTs and measurements of riboflavin content using high-performance liquid chromatography, we found that the oa, od, otm, and or mutations were responsible for low contents of riboflavin in MTs, whereas the Obs and oy mutations did not affect riboflavin accumulation. This indicates that the molecular mechanism for riboflavin accumulation is similar but somewhat different than the mechanism responsible for uric acid accumulation in epidermal cells. We found that the genes responsible for oa, od, and otm mutations were consistent with those already established for uric acid accumulation in larval epidermis. This suggests that these three genes control riboflavin accumulation in MTs through a mechanism similar to that of uric acid accumulation, although we do not yet know why the or mutation also controls riboflavin accumulation.


Bombyx mori Translucent mutation Riboflavin accumulation Malpighian tubules ABC transporter Lysosome-related organelle 



This study was in part supported by KAKENHI (15H02482, 24658048, and 22128004). The silkworm strains and related information were provided by National BioResource Project, Japan. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their criticism of the manuscript. We thank the Institute for Sustainable Agro-ecosystem Services, University of Tokyo, for facilitating the mulberry cultivation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10709_2018_34_MOESM1_ESM.docx (5.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 5335 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Agricultural and Life SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.National Agriculture and Food Research OrganizationTsukubaJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental SciencesKyushu UniversityFukuokaJapan
  4. 4.School of Life ScienceFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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