Identification of 121 variants of honey bee Vitellogenin protein sequences with structural differences at functional sites

Vilde Leipart, Jane Ludvigsen, Matthew Kent, Simen Sandve, Thu Hien To, Mariann Árnyasi, Claus D. Kreibich, Bjørn Dahle, Gro V. Amdam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Proteins are under selection to maintain central functions and to accommodate needs that arise in ever-changing environments. The positive selection and neutral drift that preserve functions result in a diversity of protein variants. The amount of diversity differs between proteins: multifunctional or disease-related proteins tend to have fewer variants than proteins involved in some aspects of immunity. Our work focuses on the extensively studied protein Vitellogenin (Vg), which in honey bees (Apis mellifera) is multifunctional and highly expressed and plays roles in immunity. Yet, almost nothing is known about the natural variation in the coding sequences of this protein or how amino acid-altering variants might impact structure–function relationships. Here, we map out allelic variation in honey bee Vg using biological samples from 15 countries. The successful barcoded amplicon Nanopore sequencing of 543 bees revealed 121 protein variants, indicating a high level of diversity in Vg. We find that the distribution of non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (nsSNPs) differs between protein regions with different functions; domains involved in DNA and protein–protein interactions contain fewer nsSNPs than the protein's lipid binding cavities. We outline how the central functions of the protein can be maintained in different variants and how the variation pattern may inform about selection from pathogens and nutrition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4369
JournalProtein Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Vitellogenin
  • honey bee
  • long-range amplicon sequencing
  • protein variants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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