Insulin family peptide members play key roles in regulating growth, metabolism, and reproduction. Bombyxin is an insulin-related peptide of the silkmoth Bombyx mori. We analyzed the full genome of B. mori and identified five novel bombyxin families, V to Z. We characterized the genomic organization and chromosomal location of the novel bombyxin family genes. In contrast to previously identified bombyxin genes, bombyxin-V and -Z genes had intervening introns at almost the same positions as vertebrate insulin genes. We performed reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization in different tissues and developmental stages to observe their temporal and spatial expression patterns. The newly identified bombyxin genes were expressed in diverse tissues: bombyxin-V, -W, and -Y mRNAs were expressed in the brain and bombyxin-X mRNA in fat bodies. Bombyxin-Y gene was expressed in both brain and ovary of larval stages. High level of bombyxin-Z gene expression in the follicular cells may suggest its function in reproduction. The presence of a short C-peptide domain and an extended A chain domain, and high expression of bombyxin-X gene in the fat body cells during non-feeding stages suggest its insulin-like growth factor-like function. These results suggest that the bombyxin genes originated from a common ancestral gene, similar to the vertebrate insulin gene, and evolved into a diverse gene family with multiple functions.
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Vol. 28 • No. 8