Extent and complexity of RNA processing in honey bee queen and worker caste development

Xu Jiang He, Andrew B. Barron, Liu Yang, Hu Chen, Yu Zhu He, Li Zhen Zhang, Qiang Huang, Zi Long Wang, Xiao Bo Wu, Wei Yu Yan, Zhi Jiang Zeng*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    11 Downloads (Pure)


    The distinct honeybee (Apis mellifera) worker and queen castes have become a model for the study of genomic mechanisms of phenotypic plasticity. Here we performed a nanopore-based direct RNA sequencing with exceptionally long reads to compare the mRNA transcripts between queen and workers at three points during their larval development. We found thousands of significantly differentially expressed transcript isoforms (DEIs) between queen and worker larvae. These DEIs were formatted by a flexible splicing system. We showed that poly(A) tails participated in this caste differentiation by negatively regulating the expression of DEIs. Hundreds of isoforms uniquely expressed in either queens or workers during their larval development, and isoforms were expressed at different points in queen and worker larval development demonstrating a dynamic relationship between isoform expression and developmental mechanisms. These findings show the full complexity of RNA processing and transcript expression in honey bee phenotypic plasticity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number104301
    Pages (from-to)1-19
    Number of pages19
    Issue number5
    Early online date25 Apr 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Entomology
    • Omics
    • Transcriptomics
    • Zoology


    Dive into the research topics of 'Extent and complexity of RNA processing in honey bee queen and worker caste development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this