Insecticide resistance mediated by an exon skipping event
© 2016 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Many genes increase coding capacity by alternate exon usage. The gene encoding the insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) α6 subunit, target of the bio-insecticide spinosad, is one example of this and expands protein diversity via alternative splicing of mutually exclusive exons. Here, we show that spinosad resistance in the tomato leaf miner, Tuta absoluta is associated with aberrant regulation of splicing of Taα6 resulting in a novel form of insecticide resistance mediated by exon skipping. Sequencing of the α6 subunit cDNA from spinosad selected and unselected strains of T. absoluta revealed all Taα6 transcripts of the selected strain were devoid of exon 3, with comparison of genomic DNA and mRNA revealing this is a result of exon skipping. Exon skipping cosegregated with spinosad resistance in survival bioassays, and functional characterization of this alteration using modified human nAChR α7, a model of insect α6, demonstrated that exon 3 is essential for receptor function and hence spinosad sensitivity. DNA and RNA sequencing analyses suggested that exon skipping did not result from genetic alterations in intronic or exonic cis-regulatory elements, but rather was associated with a single epigenetic modification downstream of exon 3a, and quantitative changes in the expression of trans-acting proteins that have known roles in the regulation of alternative splicing. Our results demonstrate that the intrinsic capacity of the α6 gene to generate transcript diversity via alternative splicing can be readily exploited during the evolution of resistance and identifies exon skipping as a molecular alteration conferring insecticide resistance.
We thank Tiago Matos and Rob Jacobson for providing the Spin strain and Bayer CropScience for providing the GA strain. The research leading to these results has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/under REA grant agreement PIRSES-GA-2012 – 318246. This work was in part funded by a fellowship grant (BB/G023352/1) from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the UK to Dr. Chris Bass and a PhD studentship award from the BBSRC which funded Madeleine Berger (grant number: 1096240).
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Vol. 25 (22), pp. 5692–5704
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