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Two sphingomyelin synthase homologues regulate body weight and sphingomyelin synthesis in female brown planthopper, N. lugens (Stål)

Shi, X.‐X., Zhang, H., Chen, M., Zhang, Y.‐D., Zhu, M.‐F., Zhang, M.‐J., Li, F.‐Q., Wratten, S., Zhou, W.‐W., Mao, C., Zhu, Z.‐R.
Insect molecular biology 2019 v.28 no.2 pp. 253-263
Malpighian tubules, Nilaparvata lugens, adults, animal ovaries, biosynthesis, body weight, ceramides, enzymes, females, genes, insects, males, plasma membrane, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, sphingomyelins, tandem mass spectrometry, testes, ultra-performance liquid chromatography, vertebrates
Although sphingomyelins known to be are lipid constituents of the plasma membrane in vertebrates, much remains obscure about the metabolism of sphingomyelins in insects. With ultra performance liquid chromatography‐time‐of‐flight‐tandem mass spectrometry analysis, we revealed for the first time that sphingomyelins are abundant in Nilaparvata lugens (Stål), the brown planthopper (BPH), and their biosynthesis is carried out by sphingomyelin synthase‐like protein 2 (SMSL2), which is homologous to sphingomyelin synthase‐related protein (SMSr). Unlike other insect species, high concentrations of sphingomyelins rather than ceramide phosphoethanolamines exist in the BPH. Two putative genes, which are homologous to SMSr, are named Nilaparvata lugens SMS‐like 1 (NlSMSL1) and 2 (NlSMSL2). Knockdowns of both NlSMSL2 and NlSMSL1 were conducted but only the first decreased concentrations of sphingomyelins in the BPH, indicating that NlSMSL2 plays a role in the biosynthesis of sphingomyelins. Real‐time quantitative PCR analysis revealed both NlSMSL1 and NlSMSL2 are highly expressed in BPH adults, with NlSMSL1 specifically highly expressed in reproductive organs (ovaries and testes) whereas NlSMSL2 was highly expressed in the malpighian tubules. The knockdown of NlSMSL1 or NlSMSL2 increased BPH female body weight but not that of males, suggesting sex‐specific roles for SMSLs in influencing BPH body weight. The results suggest that NlSMSL2 catalyses the synthesis of sphingomyelins and maintains female BPH body weight through alteration of sphingolipid content.