Disruption of the ovarian serine protease (Osp) gene causes female sterility in Bombyx mori and Spodoptera litura

Pest Manag Sci. 2020 Apr;76(4):1245-1255. doi: 10.1002/ps.5634. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


Background: Precise regulation of oogenesis is crucial to female reproduction. Seventy percent of pests belong to lepidopteran species, so it would be interesting to explore the highly conserved genes involved in oogenesis that do not affect growth and development in the lepidopteran model, Bombyx mori. This can provide potential target genes for pest control and promote the development of insect sterility technology.

Results: In lepidopteran species, ovarian serine protease (Osp), which encodes a member of the serine protease family, is essential for oogenesis. In this study, we used transgenic CRISPR/Cas9 technology to obtain Osp mutants in the model lepidopteran insect Bombyx mori and in the lepidopteran agricultural pest Spodoptera litura. Sequence analysis of mutants revealed an array of deletions in Osp loci in both species. We found that the deletion of Osp resulted in female sterility, whereas male fertility was not affected. Although B. mori and S. litura mutant females mated normally, they laid fewer eggs than wild-type females and eggs did not hatch.

Conclusion: Osp is crucial for female reproductive success in two species of Lepidoptera. As the Osp gene is highly conserved in insect species, this gene is a potential molecular target for genetic-based pest management. © 2019 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: Bombyx mori; CRISPR/Cas9; Osp; Spodoptera litura; female sterility.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bombyx*
  • Female
  • Insect Proteins
  • Male
  • Serine
  • Serine Proteases
  • Spodoptera


  • Insect Proteins
  • Serine
  • Serine Proteases