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Inhibition of histone acetylation and deacetylation enzymes affects longevity, development, and fecundity in the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum)

: Kirfel, P.; Skaljac, M.; Grotmann, J.; Kessel, T.; Seip, M.; Michaelis, K.; Vilcinskas, A.


Archives of insect biochemistry and physiology 103 (2020), Nr.3, Art. e21614, 22 S.
ISSN: 0739-4462
ISSN: 1520-6327
Fraunhofer IME ()

Histone acetylation is an evolutionarily conserved epigenetic mechanism of eukaryotic gene regulation which is tightly controlled by the opposing activities of histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs). In insects, life-history traits such as longevity and fecundity are severely affected by the suppression of HAT/HDAC activity, which can be achieved by RNA-mediated gene silencing or the application of chemical inhibitors. We used both experimental approaches to investigate the effect of HAT/HDAC inhibition in the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) a model insect often used to study complex life-history traits. The silencing of HAT genes (kat6b, kat7, and kat14) promoted survival or increased the number of offspring, whereas targeting rpd3 (HDAC) reduced the number of viviparous offspring but increased the number of premature nymphs, suggesting a role in embryogenesis and eclosion. Specific chemical inhibitors of HATs/HDACs showed a remarkably severe impact on life-history traits, reducing survival, delaying development, and limiting the number of offspring. The selective inhibition of HATs and HDACs also had opposing effects on aphid body weight. The suppression of HAT/HDAC activity in aphids by RNA interference or chemical inhibition revealed similarities and differences compared to the reported role of these enzymes in other insects. Our data suggest that gene expression in A. pisum is regulated by multiple HATs/HDACs, as indicated by the fitness costs triggered by inhibitors that suppress several of these enzymes simultaneously. Targeting multiple HATs or HDACs with combined effects on gene regulation could, therefore, be a promising approach to discover novel targets for the management of aphid pests.