Coordinated RNA-Seq and peptidomics identify neuropeptides and G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in the large pine weevil Hylobius abietis, a major forestry pest

Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2018 Oct:101:94-107. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2018.08.003. Epub 2018 Aug 27.


Hylobius abietis (Linnaeus), or large pine weevil (Coleoptera, Curculionidae), is a pest of European coniferous forests. In order to gain understanding of the functional physiology of this species, we have assembled a de novo transcriptome of H. abietis, from sequence data obtained by Next Generation Sequencing. In particular, we have identified genes encoding neuropeptides, peptide hormones and their putative G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) to gain insights into neuropeptide-modulated processes. The transcriptome was assembled de novo from pooled paired-end, sequence reads obtained from RNA from whole adults, gut and central nervous system tissue samples. Data analysis was performed on the transcripts obtained from the assembly including, annotation, gene ontology and functional assignment as well as transcriptome completeness assessment and KEGG pathway analysis. Pipelines were created using Bioinformatics tools and techniques for prediction and identification of neuropeptides and neuropeptide receptors. Peptidomic analysis was also carried out using a combination of MALDI-TOF as well as Q-Exactive Orbitrap mass spectrometry to confirm the identified neuropeptide. 41 putative neuropeptide families were identified in H. abietis, including Adipokinetic hormone (AKH), CAPA and DH31. Neuropeptide F, which has not been yet identified in the model beetle T. castaneum, was identified. Additionally, 24 putative neuropeptide and 9 leucine-rich repeat containing G protein coupled receptor-encoding transcripts were determined using both alignment as well as non-alignment methods. This information, submitted to the NCBI sequence read archive repository (SRA accession: SRP133355), can now be used to inform understanding of neuropeptide-modulated physiology and behaviour in H. abietis; and to develop specific neuropeptide-based tools for H. abietis control.

Keywords: GPCR; Insect pest; Mass spectrometry; Neuropeptides; Peptidomics; Transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Computational Biology
  • Female
  • Forestry
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Ontology
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Insect Hormones / genetics
  • Insect Hormones / metabolism
  • Insect Proteins / classification
  • Insect Proteins / genetics*
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Neuropeptides / classification
  • Neuropeptides / genetics*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Oligopeptides / genetics
  • Oligopeptides / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Pinus / parasitology
  • Pyrrolidonecarboxylic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Pyrrolidonecarboxylic Acid / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / classification
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / classification
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / genetics*
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Transcriptome*
  • Weevils / classification
  • Weevils / genetics*
  • Weevils / metabolism


  • Insect Hormones
  • Insect Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Oligopeptides
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide
  • adipokinetic hormone
  • Pyrrolidonecarboxylic Acid