Analysis of midgut gene expression profiles from different silkworm varieties after exposure to high temperature.
The silkworm is a poikilothermic animal, whose growth and development is significantly influenced by environmental temperature. To identify genes and metabolic pathways involved in the heat-stress response, digital gene expression analysis was performed on the midgut of the thermotolerant silkworm variety '932' and thermosensitive variety 'HY' after exposure to high temperature (932T and HYT). Deep sequencing yielded 6,211,484, 5,898,028, 5,870,395 and 6,088,303 reads for the 932, 932T, HY and HYT samples, respectively. The annotated genes associated with these tags numbered 4357, 4378, 4296 and 4658 for the 932, 932T, HY and HYT samples, respectively. In the HY-vs-932, 932-vs-932T, and HY-vs-HYT comparisons, 561, 316 and 281 differentially expressed genes were identified, which could be assigned to 179, 140 and 123 biological pathways, respectively. It was found that some of the biological pathways, which included oxidative phosphorylation, related to glucose and lipid metabolism, are greatly affected by high temperature and may lead to a decrease in the ingestion of fresh mulberry. When subjected to an early period of continuous heat stress, HSP genes, such as HSP19.9, HSP23.7, HSP40-3, HSP70, HSP90 and HSP70 binding protein, are up-regulated but then reduced after 24h and the thermotolerant '932' strain has higher levels of mRNA of some HSPs, except HSP70, than the thermosensitive variety during continuous high temperature treatment. It is suggested that HSPs and the levels of their expression may play important roles in the resistance to high temperature stress among silkworm varieties. This study has generated important reference tools that can be used to further analyze the mechanisms that underlie thermotolerance differences among silkworm varieties.