During pupal metamorphosis, the anterior silk gland (ASG) of the silkworm, Bombyx mori, undergoes programmed cell death (PCD), which is triggered by 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E). Annexin IX (ANX IX) has been identified as a 20E-inducible gene in dying ASGs, and we show here that its expression is down-regulated in tissues destined to die but not in tissues that survive pupal metamorphosis. ANX IX expression was high in the ASGs during the feeding period, when the ecdysteroid titer was low, and decreased in response to the rising ecdysteroid titer that triggered pupal metamorphosis. Before gut purge, in vitro exposure of the ASGs to 20E levels corresponding to the ecdysteroid concentration present at the time of gut purge caused a decrease in ANX IX messenger RNA levels. Expression profiles of EcR and USP, and the 20E concentration-responses of these genes, indicate the importance of the relative abundance of EcR-A and EcR-B1 isoforms in ANX IX regulation. These results suggest an involvement of ANX IX in the determination of PCD timing by delaying or suppressing the response to the increase in hemolymph ecdysteroid concentration during the prepupal period.
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