Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Genomics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Proteomic analysis of honeybee worker (Apis mellifera) hypopharyngeal gland development

Mao Feng, Yu Fang and Jianke Li*

Author Affiliations

Institute of Apicultural Research, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science/Key Laboratory of Pollinating Insect Biology, Beijing 100093, PR China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Genomics 2009, 10:645  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-645

Published: 31 December 2009



Hypopharyngeal glands (HG) of honeybee workers play an important role in honeybee nutrition and caste differentiation. Previous research mainly focused on age-dependent morphological, physiological, biochemical and genomic characters of the HG. Here proteomics and biochemical network analysis were used to follow protein changes during the HG development.


A total of 87, 76, 85, 74, 71, and 55 proteins were unambiguously identified on day 1, 3, 6, 12, 15 and 20, respectively. These proteins were major royal jelly proteins (MRJPs), metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, cytoskeleton, development regulation, antioxidant, molecule transporter, regulation of transcription/translation, proteins with folding functions. The most interesting is that MRJP's that have been detected in the HG of the newly emerged worker bees. The MRJP's expression is at peak level from 6-12 days, was validated by western blot analysis of MRJP1, 2 and 3. Moreover, 35 key node proteins were found in the biochemical networks of the HG.


HG secretes RJ at peak level within 6-12 days, but the worker bee can secrete royal jelly (RJ) since birth, which is a new finding. Several key node proteins play an important role in the biochemical networks of the developing HG. This provides us some target proteins when genetically manipulating honeybees.