Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Bombyx mori histone methyltransferase BmAsh2 is essential for silkworm piRNA-mediated sex determination


Sex determination is a hierarchically-regulated process with high diversity in different organisms including insects. The W chromosome-derived Fem piRNA has been identified as the primary sex determination factor in the lepidopteran insect, Bombyx mori, revealing a distinctive piRNA-mediated sex determination pathway. However, the comprehensive mechanism of silkworm sex determination is still poorly understood. We show here that the silkworm PIWI protein BmSiwi, but not BmAgo3, is essential for silkworm sex determination. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated depletion of BmSiwi results in developmental arrest in oogenesis and partial female sexual reversal, while BmAgo3 depletion only affects oogenesis. We identify three histone methyltransferases (HMTs) that are significantly down-regulated in BmSiwi mutant moths. Disruption one of these, BmAsh2, causes dysregulation of piRNAs and transposable elements (TEs), supporting a role for it in the piRNA signaling pathway. More importantly, we find that BmAsh2 mutagenesis results in oogenesis arrest and partial female-to-male sexual reversal as well as dysregulation of the sex determination genes, Bmdsx and BmMasc. Mutagenesis of other two HMTs, BmSETD2 and BmEggless, does not affect piRNA-mediated sex determination. Histological analysis and immunoprecipitation results support a functional interaction between the BmAsh2 and BmSiwi proteins. Our data provide the first evidence that the HMT, BmAsh2, plays key roles in silkworm piRNA-mediated sex determination.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View