Journal Article

Evolutionary novelty in the apoptotic pathway of aphids


Apoptosis, a conserved form of programmed cell death, shows interspecies differences that may reflect evolutionary diversification and adaptation, a notion that remains largely untested. Among insects, the most speciose animal group, the apoptotic pathway has only been fully characterized in Drosophila melanogaster, and apoptosis-related proteins have been studied in a few other dipteran and lepidopteran species. Here, we studied the apoptotic pathway in the aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum, an insect pest belonging to the Hemiptera, an earlier-diverging and distantly related order. We combined phylogenetic analyses and conserved domain identification to annotate the apoptotic pathway in A. pisum and found low caspase diversity and a large expansion of its inhibitory part, with 28 inhibitors of apoptosis (IAPs). We analyzed the spatiotemporal expression of a selected set of pea aphid IAPs and showed that they are differentially expressed in different life stages and tissues, suggesting functional diversification. Five IAPs are specifically induced in bacteriocytes, the specialized cells housing symbiotic bacteria, during their cell death. We demonstrated the antiapoptotic role of these five IAPs using heterologous expression in a tractable in vivo model, the Drosophila melanogaster developing eye. Interestingly, IAPs with the strongest antiapoptotic potential contain two BIR and two RING domains, a domain association that has not been observed in any other species. We finally analyzed all available aphid genomes and found that they all show large IAP expansion, with new combinations of protein domains, suggestive of evolutionarily novel aphidspecific functions.

Attached files


Lopes, Mélanie Ribeiro
Parisot, Nicolas
Gaget, Karen
Huygens, Cissy
Peignier, Sergio
Duport, Gabrielle
Orlans, Julien
Charles, Hubert
Baatsen, Pieter
Jousselin, Emmanuelle
Da Silva, Pedro
Hens, Korneel
Callaerts, Patrick
Calevro, Federica

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-01-22

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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