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    The silkworm (Bombyx mori) is a model species of lepidopteran insect. Microsporidium spp. are obligate intracellular eukaryotic parasites. Infection by the microsporidian Nosema bombycis (Nb) results in an outbreak of Pébrine disease in silkworms and causes substantial losses to the sericulture industry. It has been suggested that Nb depends on nutrients from host cells for spore growth. However, little is known about changes in lipid levels after Nb infection. In this study, ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS) was performed to analyze the effect of Nb infection on lipid metabolism in the midgut of silkworms. A total of 1601 individual lipid molecules were detected in the midgut of silkworms, of which 15 were significantly decreased after Nb challenge. Classification, chain length, and chain saturation analysis revealed that these 15 differential lipids can be classified into different lipid subclasses, of which 13 belong to glycerol phospholipid lipids and two belong to glyceride esters. The results indicated that Nb uses the host lipids to complete its own replication, and the acquisition of host lipid subclasses is selective; not all lipid subclasses are required for microsporidium growth or proliferation. Based on lipid metabolism data, phosphatidylcholine (PC) was found to be an important nutrient for Nb replication. Diet supplementation with lecithin substantially promoted the replication of Nb. Knockdown and overexpression of the key enzyme phosphatidate phosphatase (PAP) and phosphatidylcholine (Bbc) for PC synthesis also confirmed that PC is necessary for Nb replication. Our results showed that most lipids in the host midgut decreased when silkworms were infected with Nb. Reduction of or supplementation with PC may be a strategy to suppress or promote microsporidial replication. Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


    Yaping Su, Mengjin Liu, Mingze Li, Zhenghao Han, Dingding Lü, Yiling Zhang, Feng Zhu, Zhongyuan Shen, Ping Qian, Xudong Tang. Metabolomic analysis of lipid changes in Bombyx mori infected with Nosema bombycis. Developmental and comparative immunology. 2023 Oct;147:104750

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    PMID: 37329996

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