Differential gene expression and alternative splicing in insect immune specificity
Ecological studies routinely show genotype-genotype interactions between insects and their parasites. The mechanisms behind these interactions are not clearly understood. Using the bumblebee Bombus terrestris / trypanosome Crithidia bombi model system, we have carried out a transcriptome-wide analysis of gene expression and alternative splicing in bees during C. bombi infection. We have performed four analyses, 1) comparing gene expression in infected and non-infected bees 24 hours after infection by Crithidia bombi, 2) comparing expression at 24 and 48 hours after C.bombi infection, 3) searching for differential gene expression associated with the host-parasite genotype-genotype interaction at 24 hours after infection and 4) searching for alternative splicing associated with the host-parasite genotype-genotype interaction at 24 hours post infection. We found a large number of genes differentially regulated related to numerous canonical immune pathways. These genes include receptors, signaling pathways and effectors. We discovered a possible interaction between the peritrophic membrane and the insect immune system in defense against Crithidia. Most interestingly we found differential expression and alternative splicing of Dscam related transcripts and a novel immunoglobulin related gene Twitchin depends on the genotype-genotype interactions of the given bumblebee colony and Crithidia strain.
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