Juvenile hormone-regulated alternative splicing of the taiman gene primes the ecdysteroid response in adult mosquitoes
Juvenile hormone (JH) regulates many aspects of insect development and reproduction. In some processes, JH plays a critical role in defining the action of the steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E). In Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, JH prepares newly emerged female adults to become competent to synthesize vitellogenin in response to 20E after blood ingestion. The molecular basis of this competence is still not well understood. Here, we report that JH regulates pre-mRNA splicing of the taiman gene, which encodes a key transcriptional regulator required for both JH- and 20E-controlled gene expression. JH stimulated the production of the Taiman isoforms A/B, while reducing the levels of the isoforms C/D, in the fat body after adult eclosion. The appearance of the A/B isoforms in maturing mosquitoes was accompanied by acquisition of the competence to respond to 20E. Depletion of the A/B isoforms, by inhibiting the alternative splicing or by isoform-specific RNA interference, considerably diminished the 20E-induced gene expression after a blood meal and substantially impaired oocyte development. In accordance with this observation, further studies indicated that in the presence of 20E, the Taiman A/B isoforms showed much stronger interactions with the 20E receptor complex than the Taiman C/D isoforms. In contrast, all four isoforms displayed similar capabilities of forming active JH receptor complexes with the methoprene-tolerant protein (Met). This study suggested that JH confers the competence to newly emerged female mosquitoes by regulating mRNA splicing to generate the Taiman isoforms that are essential for the vitellogenic 20E response.