Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(12):2664-2675. doi:10.7150/ijbs.34743

Research Paper

BmBlimp-1 gene encoding a C2H2 zinc finger protein is required for wing development in the silkworm Bombyx mori

Song-Yuan Wu1,2, Xiao-Ling Tong1, Chun-Lin Li1, Xin Ding1, Zhu-Lin Zhang1, Chun-Yan Fang1, Duan Tan1, Hai Hu1, Huai Liu2✉, Fang-Yin Dai1✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Silkworm Genome Biology; Key Laboratory of Sericultural Biology and Genetic Breeding, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs; College of Biotechnology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China.
2. College of Plant Protection, Southwest University, Chongqing 400716, China.

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Wu SY, Tong XL, Li CL, Ding X, Zhang ZL, Fang CY, Tan D, Hu H, Liu H, Dai FY. BmBlimp-1 gene encoding a C2H2 zinc finger protein is required for wing development in the silkworm Bombyx mori. Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(12):2664-2675. doi:10.7150/ijbs.34743. Available from

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Cys2-His2 zinc finger (C2H2-ZF) proteins represent the most common class of transcription factors. These factors have great potential for the management of developmental progression by regulating the specific spatiotemporal expression of genes. In this study, we cloned one C2H2-ZF protein gene of Bombyx mori, BGIBMGA000319, that is orthologous to B-lymphocyte-induced maturation protein-1 (Blimp-1); we thus named it as Bombyx mori Blimp-1 (BmBlimp-1). In the silkworm, the BmBlimp-1 gene is specifically upregulated during day 2 of the pupal to adult stage and is highly expressed in wing discs on day 3 of the pupa. Knockdown of its expression level in the pupal stage results in a crumpled-winged silkworm moth. Using the predicted DNA-binding sequences of BmBlimp-1 to search the silkworm genome to screen target genes of BmBlimp-1, 7049 genes were identified to have at least one binding site of BmBlimp-1 on their 1 kb upstream and downstream genome regions. Comparisons of those genes with a reported pupal wing disc transcriptome data resulted in 4065 overlapping genes being retrieved. GO enrichment analysis of the overlapping genes showed that most of the genes were enriched in the binding term. Combining functional annotation and real-time quantitative PCR, 15 genes were identified as the candidate target genes of BmBlimp-1, including several wing cuticular protein genes, chitin synthase A, and wing disc development genes, such as Wnt1, cubitus interruptus (ci) and engrailed (en). Moreover, the amino acid sequence of the zinc finger motif of Blimp-1 gene was highly conserved among the 15 insect species. We propose that BmBlimp-1 is an important regulatory factor in silkworm wing development.

Keywords: Bombyx mori, Blimp-1, wing development, transcription regulation