The MRJP/YELLOW protein family of Apis mellifera: identification of new members in the EST library

J Insect Physiol. 2004 Jan;50(1):51-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2003.09.008.


Major royal jelly proteins (named MRJP1-5) of honeybee (Apis mellifera), yellow proteins of Drosophila, together with putative proteins found in several bacteria, form a protein family termed the MRJP/yellow family. Members of the family exert diverse physiological functions and amongst eukaryotes appear to be restricted to the order Insecta. MRJPs constitute about 90% of total protein of royal jelly, which is secreted by nurse bees to feed the queen and growing larvae. We looked for mrjp and yellow homologues in a honeybee brain expressed sequence tags (EST) library. In addition to the five mrjp cDNAs previously characterized, we found three additional cDNAs encoding novel MRJPs and importantly, two cDNAs coding for orthologues of Drosophila yellow proteins. One yellow cDNA and all three cDNAs coding for the novel MRJPs were assembled completely, the sequence of the other yellow homologue was partially assembled. The data we present here supports the view that repeated duplications and functional divergence occurred during the evolution of MRJPs in honeybees, with even closely related MRJPs appearing to perform diverse physiological functions. Conversely, yellow protein orthologues appear to be conserved and thus candidates for maintaining the former function(s) of yellow proteins.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Bees / genetics*
  • Bees / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • DNA, Complementary / analysis
  • Databases, Nucleic Acid
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Expressed Sequence Tags / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / genetics*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Gene Library
  • Insect Hormones / genetics*
  • Insect Hormones / metabolism
  • Insect Proteins / genetics*
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Homology


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Insect Hormones
  • Insect Proteins
  • y protein, Drosophila
  • royal jelly