Nuclear translocation of vitellogenin in the honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Heli Salmela, Gyan P. Harwood, Daniel Münch, Christine G. Elsik, Elías Herrero-Galán, Maria K. Vartiainen, Gro V. Amdam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Vitellogenin (Vg) is a conserved protein used by nearly all oviparous animals to produce eggs. It is also pleiotropic and performs functions in oxidative stress resistance, immunity, and, in honey bees, behavioral development of the worker caste. It has remained enigmatic how Vg affects multiple traits. Here, we asked whether Vg enters the nucleus and acts via DNA-binding. We used cell fractionation, immunohistology, and cell culture to show that a structural subunit of honey bee Vg translocates into cell nuclei. We then demonstrated Vg-DNA binding theoretically and empirically with prediction software and chromatin immunoprecipitation with sequencing (ChIP-seq), finding binding sites at genes influencing immunity and behavior. Finally, we investigated the immunological and enzymatic conditions affecting Vg cleavage and nuclear translocation and constructed a 3D structural model. Our data are the first to show Vg in the nucleus and suggest a new fundamental regulatory role for this ubiquitous protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • DNA binding
  • Vitellogenin
  • nuclear protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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