Female-specific expression of a hexamerin gene in larvae of an autogenous mosquito

Stanislav O. Zakharkin, Violetta V. Headley, Nagothu K. Kumar, Norman A. Buck, Diana E. Wheeler, Helen Beneš

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Fourth-instar larvae of the autogenous mosquito, Aedes atropalpus, synthesize three hexamerins or hexameric storage proteins which are distinguished by different methionine and aromatic amino-acid contents. One protein, Hexamerin-1.2 (AatHex-1.2) is only found in female larvae and pupae. In order to investigate the molecular basis for this sex-specific accumulation, we have cloned and sequenced the cDNA encoding AatHex-1.2 and isolated and sequenced over 1 kb of the 5′ flanking region of the AatHex-1.2 gene. The AatHex-1.2 transcript encodes a 81.6-kDa hexamerin subunit which contains 19.8% phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan and 8.6% methionine residues. The single-copy AatHex-1.2 gene consists of three exons and two small introns located at its 5′ end. A 2.3-kb AatHex-1.2 mRNA accumulates only in female larvae and pupae and is expressed at very low levels in adult female mosquitoes. The temporal expression profile of this transcript is typical of other mosquito hexamerin genes, with rapid disappearance of the mRNA shortly after pupation. Hence this is the first observation of exclusively female-specific gene activity during preadult development of an insect. In the 5′ flanking region of the AatHex-1.2 gene, we identified putative binding sites for transcription factors, such as GATA, C/EBP and Doublesex, typically involved in fat body- and female-specific gene activity in Diptera. These findings suggest that mechanisms for sex-specific transcription in the fat body may be well conserved between flies and mosquitoes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5713-5722
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2001


  • Aedes atropalpus
  • Autogeny
  • Hexamerin
  • Mosquito
  • Sex-specific gene expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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