Tribolium castaneum is an important agricultural pest and an advanced genetic model for coleopteran insects. We have taken advantage of the recently acquired T. castaneum genome to identify T. castaneum genes and proteins in one of the more critical environmental interfaces of the insect, the larval alimentary tract. Genetic transcripts isolated from the T. castaneum larval gut were labeled and hybridized to a custom array containing oligonucleotides from predicted genes in the T. castaneum genome. Through a ranking procedure based on relative labeling intensity, we found that approximately 17.6% of the genes represented in the array were predicted to be highly expressed in gut tissue. Several genes were selected to compare relative expression levels in larval gut, head, or carcass tissues using quantitative real-time PCR, and expression levels were, with few exceptions, consistent with the gut rankings. In parallel with the microarrays, proteins extracted from the T. castaneum larval gut were subjected to proteomic analysis. Two-dimensional electrophoretic analysis combined with MALDI-TOF resulted in the identification of 37 of 88 selected protein samples. As an alternative strategy, one-dimensional electrophoretic separation of T. castaneum larval gut proteins followed by two-dimensional nano-HPLC and ESI-MS/MS resulted in the identification of 98 proteins. A comparison of the proteomic studies indicated that 16 proteins were commonly identified in both, whereas 80 proteins from the proteomic analyses corresponded to genes with gut rankings indicative of high expression in the microarray analysis. These data serve as a resource of T. castaneum transcripts and proteins in the larval gut and provide the basis for comparative transcriptomic and proteomic studies related to the gut of coleopteran insects.
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