Disruption of phenylalanine hydroxylase reduces adult lifespan and fecundity, and impairs embryonic development in parthenogenetic pea aphids

Abstract : Phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) is a key tyrosine-biosynthetic enzyme involved in neurological and melanin-associated physiological processes. Despite extensive investigations in holometabolous insects, a PAH contribution to insect embryonic development has never been demonstrated. Here, we have characterized, for the first time, the PAH gene in a hemimetabolous insect, the aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. Phylogenetic and sequence analyses confirmed that ApPAH is closely related to metazoan PAH, exhibiting the typical ACT regulatory and catalytic domains. Temporal expression patterns suggest that ApPAH has an important role in aphid developmental physiology, its mRNA levels peaking at the end of embryonic development. We used parental dsApPAH treatment to generate successful knockdown in aphid embryos and to study its developmental role. ApPAH inactivation shortens the adult aphid lifespan and considerably affects fecundity by diminishing the number of nymphs laid and impairing embryonic development, with newborn nymphs exhibiting severe morphological defects. Using single nymph HPLC analyses, we demonstrated a significant tyrosine deficiency and a consistent accumulation of the upstream tyrosine precursor, phenylalanine, in defective nymphs, thus confirming the RNAi-mediated disruption of PAH activity. This study provides first insights into the role of PAH in hemimetabolous insects and demonstrates that this metabolic gene is essential for insect embryonic development.
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Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, 6, 〈10.1038/srep34321〉
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Pierre Simonet, Karen Gaget, Nicolas Parisot, Gabrielle Duport, Marjolaine Rey, et al.. Disruption of phenylalanine hydroxylase reduces adult lifespan and fecundity, and impairs embryonic development in parthenogenetic pea aphids. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, 6, 〈10.1038/srep34321〉. 〈hal-01388523〉

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