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The European honeybee, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), has a full set of machinery for functional CpG methylation of its genome. A recent study demonstrated that DNA methylation in the honeybee is involved in caste differentiation. In this study, the expression and methylation of the hexamerin 110 gene (Hex110), which encodes a storage protein, was analyzed. High levels of the Hex110 transcript were expressed in both worker and queen larvae. Low levels of this transcript were also detected in adult fat bodies, and the expression level was higher in the queen than in the worker. Bisulfite sequencing revealed that the Hex110 gene is overall methylated at a low level, with a limited number of CpG sites methylated at relatively high levels. These highly methylated sites were exclusively located in the exon regions. The average methylation rate of the Hex110 gene was higher in the adult stage than in the larval stage. Furthermore, several CpG sites were differentially methylated between the worker and queen larvae. These observations suggest that the methylation of the Hex110 gene is regulated at the developmental stage and in a caste-dependent manner.
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