RNA m6A Methylation Suppresses Insect Juvenile Hormone Degradation to Minimize Fitness Costs in Response to A Pathogenic Attack

Zhaojiang Guo, Yang Bai, Xinyi Zhang, Le Guo, Liuhong Zhu, Dan Sun, Kaiyue Sun, Xudan Xu, Xin Yang, Wen Xie, Shaoli Wang, Qingjun Wu, Neil Crickmore, Xuguo Zhou, Youjun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bioinsecticides and transgenic crops based on the bacterial pathogen Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can effectively control diverse agricultural insect pests, nevertheless, the evolution of resistance without obvious fitness costs has seriously eroded the sustainable use of these Bt products. Recently, it has been discovered that an increased titer of juvenile hormone (JH) favors an insect host (Plutella xylostella) to enhance fitness whilst resisting the Bt pathogen, however, the underlying regulatory mechanisms of the increased JH titer are obscure. Here, the involvement of N6-methyladenosine (m6A) RNA modification in modulating the availability of JH in this process is defined. Specifically, it is found that two m6A methyltransferase subunit genes, PxMettl3 and PxMettl14, repress the expression of a key JH-degrading enzyme JH esterase (JHE) to induce an increased JH titer, mitigating the fitness costs associated with a robust defense against the Bt pathogen. This study identifies an as-yet uncharacterized m6A-mediated epigenetic regulator of insect hormones for maintaining fitness during pathogen defense and unveils an emerging Bt resistance-related m6A methylation atlas in insects, which further expands the functional landscape of m6A modification and showcases the pivotal role of epigenetic regulation in host-pathogen interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2307650
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 9 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • host-pathogen interactions
  • juvenile hormone esterase
  • mA modification
  • Plutella xylostella

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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