Drug Discov Ther. 2016;10(1):3-8. (DOI: 10.5582/ddt.2016.01011)

Can the silkworm (Bombyx mori) be used as a human disease model?

Tabunoki H, Bono H, Ito K, Yokoyama T


Bombyx mori (silkworm) is the most famous lepidopteran in Japan. B. mori has long been used in the silk industry and also as a model insect for agricultural research. In recent years, B. mori has attracted interest in its potential for use in pathological analysis of model animals. For example, the human macular carotenoid transporter was discovered using information of B. mori carotenoid transporter derived from yellow-cocoon strain. The B. mori carotenoid transport system is useful in human studies. To develop a human disease model, we characterized the human homologs of B. mori, and by constructing KAIKO functional annotation pipeline, and to analyze gene expression profile of a unique B. mori mutant strain using microarray analysis. As a result, we identified a novel molecular network involved in Parkinson's disease. Here we describe the potential use of a spontaneous mutant silkworm strain as a human disease model. We also summarize recent progress in the application of genomic information for annotation of human homologs in B. mori. The B. mori mutant will provide a clue to pathological mechanisms, and the findings will be helpful for the development of therapies and for medical drug discovery.

KEYWORDS: Silkworm, human disease model, Bombyx mori mutant, Parkinson's disease, translucent larval skin

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