Characterization of a midgut-specific chitin synthase gene (LmCHS2) responsible for biosynthesis of chitin of peritrophic matrix in Locusta migratoria.Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2012 Dec; 42(12):902-10.IB
Chitin, an essential component of peritrophic matrix (PM), is produced by a series of biochemical reactions. Chitin synthase plays a crucial role in chitin polymerization in chitin biosynthetic pathway. In this study, we identified and characterized a full-length cDNA of chitin synthase 2 gene (LmCHS2) from Locusta migratoria. The cDNA contains an open reading frame of 4569 nucleotides that encode 1523 amino acid residues, and 76- and 373-nucleotides for 5'- and 3'-noncoding regions, respectively. Analysis of LmCHS2 transcript in different tissues of the locust by using real-time quantitative PCR indicated that LmCHS2 was exclusively expressed in midgut and gastric caeca (a part of the midgut). The highest expression was found in the anterior midgut with a decline of the transcript level from the anterior to posterior regions. During growth and development of locusts, there was only a slight expression in eggs, but the expression gradually increased from nymphs to adults. In situ hybridization further revealed that LmCHS2 transcript mainly presented in the apical regions of brush border forming columnar cells of gastric caeca. LmCHS2 dsRNA was injected to fifth-instar nymphs to further explore biological functions of LmCHS2. Significantly down-regulated transcript of LmCHS2 resulted in a cessation of feeding and a high mortality of the insect. However, no visible abnormal morphological change of locusts was observed until insects molted to adults. After dissection, we found that the average length of midguts from the LmCHS2 dsRNA-injected locusts was shorter than that of the control insects that were injected with dsGFP. Furthermore, microsection of midguts showed that the PM of the LmCHS2 dsRNA-injected nymphs was amorphous and thin as compared with the controls. Our results demonstrate that LmCHS2 is responsible for the biosynthesis of chitin associated with PM and plays an essential role in locust growth and development.