Immediate early genes (IEGs) have served as useful markers of brain neuronal activity in mammals, and more recently in insects. The mammalian canonical IEG, c-jun, is part of regulatory pathways conserved in insects and has been shown to be responsive to alarm pheromone in honey bees. We tested whether c-jun was responsive in honey bees to another behaviourally relevant stimulus, sucrose, in order to further identify the brain regions involved in sucrose processing. To identify responsive regions, we developed a new method of voxel-based analysis of c-jun mRNA expression. We found that c-jun is expressed in somata throughout the brain. It was rapidly induced in response to sucrose stimuli, and it responded in somata near the antennal and mechanosensory motor centre, mushroom body calices and lateral protocerebrum, which are known to be involved in sucrose processing. c-jun also responded to sucrose in somata near the lateral suboesophageal ganglion, dorsal optic lobe, ventral optic lobe and dorsal posterior protocerebrum, which had not been previously identified by other methods. These results demonstrate the utility of voxel-based analysis of mRNA expression in the insect brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-390
Number of pages14
JournalInsect Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • brain
  • c-jun
  • confocal microscope
  • honey bee
  • immediate early gene
  • mRNA in situ hybridization
  • proboscis extension response
  • sucrose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Insect Science


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