Juvenile hormone III (JH) plays a key role in regulating the reproduction of female mosquitoes. Microarray time-course analysis revealed dynamic changes in gene expression during posteclosion (PE) development in the fat body of female Aedes aegypti. Hierarchical clustering identified three major gene clusters: 1,843 early-PE (EPE) genes maximally expressed at 6 h PE, 457 mid-PE (MPE) genes at 24 h PE, and 1,815 late-PE (LPE) genes at 66 h PE. The RNAi microarray screen for the JH receptor Methoprene-tolerant (Met) showed that 27% of EPE and 40% of MPE genes were up-regulated whereas 36% of LPE genes were down-regulated in the absence of this receptor. Met repression of EPE and MPE and activation of LPE genes were validated by an in vitro fat-body culture experiment using Met RNAi. Sequence motif analysis revealed the consensus for a 9-mer Met-binding motif, CACG(C)/TG(A)/G(T)/AG. Met-binding motif variants were overrepresented within the first 300 bases of the promoters of Met RNAi-down-regulated (LPE) genes but not in Met RNAi-up-regulated (EPE) genes. EMSAs using a combination of mutational and anti-Met antibody supershift analyses confirmed the binding properties of the Met consensus motif variants. There was a striking temporal separation of expression profiles among major functional gene groups, with carbohydrate, lipid, and xenobiotics metabolism belonging to the EPE and MPE clusters and transcription and translation to the LPE cluster. This study represents a significant advancement in the understanding of the regulation of gene expression by JH and its receptor Met during female mosquito reproduction.
Keywords: hormone action; insect disease vector; insect-specific hormone.