A novel gene REPTOR2 activates the autophagic degradation of wing disc in pea aphid. Academic Article uri icon


  • Wing dimorphism in insects is an evolutionarily adaptive trait to maximize insect fitness under various environments, by which the population could be balanced between dispersing and reproduction. Most studies concern the regulatory mechanisms underlying the stimulation of wing morph in aphids, but relatively little research addresses the molecular basis of wing loss. Here, we found that, while developing normally in winged-destined pea aphids, the wing disc in wingless-destined aphids degenerated 30-hr postbirth and that this degeneration was due to autophagy rather than apoptosis. Activation of autophagy in first instar nymphs reduced the proportion of winged aphids, and suppression of autophagy increased the proportion. REPTOR2, associated with TOR signaling pathway, was identified by RNA-seq as a differentially expressed gene between the two morphs with higher expression in the thorax of wingless-destined aphids. Further genetic analysis indicated that REPTOR2 could be a novel gene derived from a gene duplication event that occurred exclusively in pea aphids on autosome A1 but translocated to the sex chromosome. Knockdown of REPTOR2 reduced autophagy in the wing disc and increased the proportion of winged aphids. In agreement with REPTOR's canonical negative regulatory role of TOR on autophagy, winged-destined aphids had higher TOR expression in the wing disc. Suppression of TOR activated autophagy of the wing disc and decreased the proportion of winged aphids, and vice versa. Co-suppression of TOR and REPTOR2 showed that dsREPTOR2 could mask the positive effect of dsTOR on autophagy, suggesting that REPTOR2 acted as a key regulator downstream of TOR in the signaling pathway. These results revealed that the TOR signaling pathway suppressed autophagic degradation of the wing disc in pea aphids by negatively regulating the expression of REPTOR2.

published proceedings

  • Elife

altmetric score

  • 10

author list (cited authors)

  • Yuan, E., Guo, H., Chen, W., Du, B., Mi, Y., Qi, Z., ... Sun, Y.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Yuan, Erliang||Guo, Huijuan||Chen, Weiyao||Du, Bingru||Mi, Yingjie||Qi, Zhaorui||Yuan, Yiyang||Zhu-Salzman, Keyan||Ge, Feng||Sun, Yucheng

publication date

  • March 2023


published in