Identification and developmental profiling of conserved and novel microRNAs in Manduca sexta

Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2012 Jun;42(6):381-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2012.01.006. Epub 2012 Mar 1.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a group of small RNAs involved in translation inhibition or mRNA degradation. Due to its large size, Manduca sexta has long been used as a model to study insect physiology and biochemistry. While transcriptome studies have greatly enriched our knowledge on M. sexta structural genes, little is known about posttranscriptional regulation by miRNAs in this lepidopteran species. We constructed four small RNA libraries from embryos, 4th instar feeding larvae, pupae, and adults, obtained 21 million reads of 18-31 nucleotides by Illumina sequencing, and found 163 conserved and 13 novel miRNAs. By searching the M. sexta genome assembly, we identified precursors of 82 conserved miRNAs, 76 of which had mapped reads in one or more of these libraries. After normalization, we compared numbers of miRNA and miRNA-star reads in these libraries and observed abundance changes during development. Interestingly, mse-miR-281-star, mse-miR-31-star, mse-miR-965-star, mse-miR-9a-star, mse-miR-9b-star, mse-miR-2a-star, mse-miR-92b-star and mse-miR-279c-star are either more abundant or maintained at similar levels compared to respective mature miRNA strand. Expression profiling of the first set of miRNAs provided insights to their possible involvement in developmental regulation. This study will aid in the annotation of miRNA genes in the genome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Female
  • Genome, Insect
  • Larva / chemistry
  • Larva / metabolism
  • Male
  • Manduca / chemistry
  • Manduca / physiology*
  • MicroRNAs / isolation & purification
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pupa / chemistry
  • Pupa / metabolism
  • RNA, Antisense / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Antisense