Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 24324583
Link to DOI – 10.1371/journal.pone.0079861
PLoS ONE 2013 ; 8(12): e79861
In insects, the steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) coordinates major developmental transitions. While the first and the final steps of 20E biosynthesis are characterized, the pathway from 7-dehydrocholesterol to 5β-ketodiol, commonly referred as the “black box”, remains hypothetical and whether there are still unidentified enzymes is unknown. The black box would include some oxidative steps, which are believed to be mediated by P450 enzymes. To identify new enzyme(s) involved in steroid synthesis, we analyzed by small-scale microarray the expression of all the genes encoding P450 enzymes of the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae in active steroidogenic organs of adults, ovaries from blood-fed females and male reproductive tracts, compared to inactive steroidogenic organs, ovaries from non-blood-fed females. Some genes encoding P450 enzymes were specifically overexpressed in female ovaries after a blood-meal or in male reproductive tracts but only three genes were found to be overexpressed in active steroidogenic organs of both females and males: cyp307a1, cyp4g16 and cyp6n1. Among these genes, only cyp307a1 has an expression pattern similar to other mosquito steroidogenic genes. Moreover, loss-of-function by transient RNAi targeting cyp307a1 disrupted ecdysteroid production demonstrating that this gene is required for ecdysteroid biosynthesis in Anopheles gambiae.