Ligand-dependent protein interactions of the juvenile hormone receptor captured in real time

FEBS J. 2023 Jan 6. doi: 10.1111/febs.16719. Online ahead of print.


Juvenile hormone (JH) signalling provides vital regulatory functions during insect development via transcriptional regulation of genes critical for the progression of metamorphosis and oogenesis. Despite the importance of JH signalling, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown. Our current understanding of the pathway depends on static end-point information and suffers from the lack of time-resolved data. Here, we have addressed the dynamic aspect of JH signalling by monitoring in real time the interactions of insect JH receptor proteins. Use of two tags that reconstitute a functional luciferase when in proximity enabled us to follow the rapid assembly of a JH receptor heterodimer from basic helix-loop-helix/Per-Arnt-SIM (bHLH-PAS) proteins, methoprene-tolerant (Met) and taiman (Tai), upon specific JH binding to Met. On a similar timescale (minutes), the dissociation of Met-Met complexes occurred, again strictly dependent on Met interaction with specific agonist ligands. To resolve questions regarding the regulatory role of the chaperone Hsp90/83 in the JHR complex formation, we used the same technique to demonstrate that the Met-Hsp83 complex persisted in the agonist absence but readily dissociated upon specific binding of JH to Met. Preincubation with the Hsp90 inhibitor geldanamycin showed that the chaperone interaction protected Met from degradation and was critical for Met to produce the active signalling dimer with Tai. Thus, the JH receptor functions appear to be governed by principles similar to those regulating the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, the closest vertebrate homologue of the arthropod JH receptor.

Keywords: Hsp90; bHLH-PAS domain; dimerisation; hormone receptor; juvenile hormone.

Associated data

  • RefSeq/NP_001092812.1
  • RefSeq/XP_008193629.1
  • RefSeq/NP_001300806.1