Discovery of midgut genes for the RNA interference control of corn rootworm.Sci Rep. 2016 07 28; 6:30542.SR
RNA interference (RNAi) is a promising new technology for corn rootworm control. This paper presents the discovery of new gene targets - dvssj1 and dvssj2, in western corn rootworm (WCR). Dvssj1 and dvssj2 are orthologs of the Drosophila genes snakeskin (ssk) and mesh, respectively. These genes encode membrane proteins associated with smooth septate junctions (SSJ) which are required for intestinal barrier function. Based on bioinformatics analysis, dvssj1 appears to be an arthropod-specific gene. Diet based insect feeding assays using double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) targeting dvssj1 and dvssj2 demonstrate targeted mRNA suppression, larval growth inhibition, and mortality. In RNAi treated WCR, injury to the midgut was manifested by "blebbing" of the midgut epithelium into the gut lumen. Ultrastructural examination of midgut epithelial cells revealed apoptosis and regenerative activities. Transgenic plants expressing dsRNA targeting dvssj1 show insecticidal activity and significant plant protection from WCR damage. The data indicate that dvssj1 and dvssj2 are effective gene targets for the control of WCR using RNAi technology, by apparent suppression of production of their respective smooth septate junction membrane proteins located within the intestinal lining, leading to growth inhibition and mortality.