Molecular characterization of the insecticidal activity of double-stranded RNA targeting the smooth septate junction of western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera).PLoS One. 2019; 14(1):e0210491.Plos
The western corn rootworm (WCR, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) gene, dvssj1, is a putative homolog of the Drosophila melanogaster gene, snakeskin (ssk). This gene encodes a membrane protein associated with the smooth septate junction (SSJ) which is required for the proper barrier function of the epithelial lining of insect intestines. Disruption of DVSSJ integrity by RNAi technique has been shown previously to be an effective approach for corn rootworm control, by apparent suppression of production of DVSSJ1 protein leading to growth inhibition and mortality. To understand the mechanism that leads to the death of WCR larvae by dvssj1 double-stranded RNA, we examined the molecular characteristics associated with SSJ functions during larval development. Dvssj1 dsRNA diet feeding results in dose-dependent suppression of mRNA and protein; this impairs SSJ formation and barrier function of the midgut and results in larval mortality. These findings suggest that the malfunctioning of the SSJ complex in midgut triggered by dvssj1 silencing is the principal cause of WCR death. This study also illustrates that dvssj1 is a midgut-specific gene in WCR and its functions are consistent with biological functions described for ssk.