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Cellular immunity in insects is accompanied by change in hemocyte shape. This study hypothesizes that cytoskeletal rearrangement is accompanied by transmembrane water transport to change cell volume, thus changing cell shape. A water-transporting pore (=aquaporin:AQP) has been identified in the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua. Its expression was detected in all developmental stages and tissues, although its transcription levels were different between biotic and abiotic conditions. Heterologous expression of Se-AQP in Sf9 cells showed that Se-AQP was localized on cell membrane. RNA interference (RNAi) using double-stranded RNA effectively suppressed its transcript levels. Under different ionic concentrations, hemocytes of RNAi-treated larvae did not change cell volume presumably due to malfunction in water transportation. Se-AQP might participate in glycerol transport because up-regulation of hemolymph glycerol titer after rapid cold-hardening was prevented by RNAi treatment against Se-AQP expression. The inhibitory effect of RNAi treatment on change of cell shape significantly impaired cellular immune responses such as phagocytosis and nodule formation upon bacterial challenge. RNAi treatment also significantly interfered with immature development of S. exigua. These results indicate that Se-AQP plays a crucial role in cell shape change that is required for cellular immunity and other physiological processes.


Shabbir Ahmed, Yonggyun Kim. An aquaporin mediates cell shape change required for cellular immunity in the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua. Scientific reports. 2019 Mar 21;9(1):4988

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PMID: 30899076

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