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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Analysis of bacteria-challenged wild silkmoth, Antheraea mylitta (lepidoptera) transcriptome reveals potential immune genes

Archana S Gandhe, K P Arunkumar, Serene H John and J Nagaraju*

Author Affiliations

Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, ECIL Road, Nacharam, Hyderabad 500076, India

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:184  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-184

Published: 21 July 2006



In the recent years a strong resemblance has been observed between the insect immune system and the mammalian innate immune mechanisms suggesting their common origin. Among the insects, only the dipterans (Drosophila and various mosquito species) have been widely investigated for their immune responses towards diverse pathogens. In the present study we constructed and analysed the immune transcriptome of the lepidopteran Antheraea mylitta, an economically important Indian tasar silkmoth with a view to unravel the potential immune-related genes and pathways.


An expressed sequence tag (EST) library was constructed from mRNA obtained from fat bodies of A. mylitta larvae that had been challenged by infection with Escherichia coli cells. We identified 719 unique ESTs from a total of 1412 sequences so generated. A third of the transcriptome showed similarity with previously characterized immune-related genes that included both the known and putative immune genes. Of the four putative novel defence proteins (DFPs) annotated by PSI-BLAST three showed similarity to extracellular matrix proteins from vertebrates implicated in innate immunity, while the fourth was similar to, yet distinct from, the anti-microbial protein cecropin. Finally, we analysed the expression profiles of 15 potential immune-related genes, and the majority of them were induced more prominently with E. coli compared to Micrococcus luteus. We also identified several unknown proteins, some of which could have probable immune-related functions based on the results of the ProDom analysis.


The present study has identified many potential immune-related genes in A. mylitta some of which are vertebrate homologues and others are hitherto unreported putative defence proteins. Several genes were present as members of gene families, as has also been observed in other insect species.