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Seasonal phenotype-specific expression of microRNAs during metamorphosis in the European map butterfly Araschnia levana

: Mukherjee, K.; Baudach, A.; Vogel, H.; Vilcinskas, A.

Fulltext ()

Archives of insect biochemistry and physiology 104 (2020), No.1, Art. e21657, 12 pp.
ISSN: 0739-4462
ISSN: 1520-6327
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IME ()

The European map butterfly (Araschnia levana ) is a well‐known example of seasonal polyphenism because the spring and summer imagoes exhibit distinct morphological phenotypes. The day length and temperature during larval and prepupal development determine whether spring or summer imagoes emerge after metamorphosis. Inspired by the fundamentally different transcriptomic profiles in prepupae developing from larvae exposed to long days or short days, we postulate that posttranscriptional epigenetic regulators such as microRNAs (miRNAs) may contribute to the epigenetic control of seasonal polyphenism in A. levana . To test this hypothesis, we used microarrays containing over 2,000 insect miRNAs to identify candidate regulators that are differentially expressed in last‐instar larvae or pupae developing under long‐day or short‐day conditions. We used our transcriptomic database to identify potential 3′‐untranslated regions of messenger RNAs to predict miRNA targets by considering both base pair complementarity and minimum free energy hybridization. This approach resulted in the identification of multiple targets of miRNAs that were differentially regulated in polyphenic morphs of A. levana including a candidate (miR‐2856‐3p) regulating the previously identified diapause bioclock protein gene. In conclusion, the expression profiling of miRNAs provided insights into their possible involvement in seasonal polyphenism of A. levana and offer an important resource for further studies.