1. Key Laboratory of Insect Developmental and Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200032, China.
2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.
RNA interference has been described as a powerful genetic tool for gene functional analysis and a promising approach for pest management. However, RNAi efficiency varies significantly among insect species due to distinct RNAi machineries. Lepidopteran insects include a large number of pests as well as model insects, such as the silkworm, Bombyx mori. However, only limited success of in vivo RNAi has been reported in lepidoptera, particularly during the larval stages when the worms feed the most and do the most harm to the host plant. Enhancing the efficiency of larval RNAi in lepidoptera is urgently needed to develop RNAi-based pest management strategies. In the present study, we investigate the function of the conserved RNAi core factor, Argonaute2 (Ago2), in mediating B. mori RNAi efficiency. We demonstrate that introducing BmAgo2 dsRNA inhibits the RNAi response in both BmN cells and embryos. Furthermore, we establish several transgenic silkworm lines to assess the roles of BmAgo2 in larval RNAi. Over-expressing BmAgo2 significantly facilitated both dsRNA-mediated larval RNAi when targeting DsRed using dsRNA injection and shRNA-mediated larval RNAi when targeting BmBlos2 using transgenic shRNA expression. Our results show that BmAgo2 is involved in RNAi in B. mori and provides a promising approach for improving larval RNAi efficiency in B. mori and in lepidopteran insects in general.
Keywords: RNAi, Bombyx mori, Argonaute2, dsRNA, shRNA