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, 105:24 | Cite as

Identification of a melatonin receptor type 1A gene (AccMTNR1A) in Apis cerana cerana and its possible involvement in the response to low temperature stress

  • Guilin Li
  • Yanming Zhang
  • Yong Ni
  • Ying Wang
  • Baohua Xu
  • Xingqi Guo
Original Paper


It is known that melatonin plays an indispensable role in the defense against some environment-induced stresses. The melatonin receptor (MTNR) is also closely linked to the environmental stress response in mammals. However, little is known about the function of the MTNR in insects, including honeybees. In this study, we identified a MTNR from Apis cerana cerana named AccMTNR1A, which contained a typical seven-transmembrane domain common to this family of receptors. A subcellular localization analysis showed that AccMTNR1A was localized in the cytomembrane. Additionally, we found that cold stress apparently boosted AccMTNR1A transcription, indicating that AccMTNR1A possibly connects to the cold stress response. The knockdown of AccMTNR1A attenuated the expression level of some genes associated with the cold stress response, suggesting that AccMTNR1A likely plays an analogous role with these genes during low temperature stress response. Moreover, silencing of AccMTNR1A also suppressed the transcription of some antioxidant genes, prompting the possibility that the response of AccMTNR1A to cold stress response may be related to antioxidant signaling pathways. Collectively, the findings presented here provide evidence that AccMTNR1A may play essential roles in protecting Apis cerana cerana from cold stress.


Apis cerana cerana Melatonin receptor Cold stress Oxidative injury Expression level RNA interference 


Funding information

This work was financially supported by the earmarked fund for the China Agriculture Research System (No. CARS-45), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31572470), the Shandong Province Modern Agricultural Technology System Innovation Team Special Fund (No. SDAIT-24-04), and the Shandong Province Fine Varieties Breeding Project (2014-2016).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

114_2018_1546_Fig8_ESM.gif (188 kb)
Fig. S1

Characterization of MTNRs from different species and putative seven-transmembrane domain of AccMTNR1A. a, Multiple amino acid sequence alignments of AccMTNR1A from Apis cerana cerana and AmMTNR1B from Apis mellifera and AfMTNR1A from Apis florea. The protein sequences of aforementioned MTNRs were downloaded from the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Identical regions are labeled in black. The predicted secondary structure of AccMTNR1A is shaded in arrows. b, The possible seven-transmembrane domain of AccMTNR1A (GIF 188 kb)

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, College of Life SciencesShandong Agricultural UniversityTai’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Animal Science and TechnologyShandong Agricultural UniversityTai’anPeople’s Republic of China

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