Submitted to: Insect Molecular Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 20, 2006
Publication Date: November 1, 2006
Citation: Peiren, N., De Graaf, D.C., Evans, J.D., Jacobs, F.J. 2006. Genomic and transcriptional analysis of protein heterogeneity of the honeybee venom allergen api m 6. Insect Molecular Biology. 15:577-582.
Interpretive Summary: Honey bees play important roles in agriculture as pollinators and food providers. If stung by honey bees, beekeepers and other members of the public can be exposed to a set of venom compounds that are allergenic in a minority of cases. Understanding these venom compounds can help in the development of desensitizing treatments for people with allergic responses, and in efforts to develop suitable antivenom treatments for people faced with an allergenic response. The recently sequenced honey bee genome helped us to determine the genetic basis of a variable venom protein (“Api m 6”), showing that variation for this trait is limited to one section of the genome. This information will be of use for medical researchers and clinicians as they work to minimize adverse effects of honey bees and other stinging insects.
Several components of honey bee venom are known to cause allergenic responses in humans and other vertebrates. One such component, the minor allergen Api m 6, has been known to show amino-acid variation but the genetic mechanism for this variation is unknown. Here we show that Api m 6 is derived from a single locus, and that substantial protein-level variation has a simple genome-level cause, without the need to invoke multiple loci or alternatively spliced exons. Api m 6 sits near a misassembled section of the honey bee genome sequence, and we propose that a substantial number of indels at and near Api m 6 might be the root cause of this misassembly. We suggest that genes such as Api m 6 with coding-region or UTR indels might have had a strong effect on the assembly of this draft of the honey bee genome.