On October 7, 2021, Jonathan Snow, associate professor of biological sciences, published new research in the international journal Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, along with biology department staff member Melissa Flores ’16, Nora K. McNamara-Bordewick ’20, and Natalie L. Lovinger ’22. The article, “Halofuginone triggers a transcriptional program centered on ribosome biogenesis and function in honey bees,” expands on earlier research that examined how the antimalarial drug Halofuginone may be used to treat Nosema ceranae, which is a known pathogen of honey bees. Previous research has found that administering a dose of Halofuginone large enough to be effective against the pathogen is toxic to bees.
In their latest study, the authors used RNAseq to characterize the cellular stress pathways that are affected by the drug, finding that it alters “the expression of genes involved in various aspects of protein production via the Integrated Stress Response (ISR).” The findings suggest that the bees’ bodies activate a response that is more focused on “establishing homeostasis of a ribosome function,” whereas other organisms’ systems focus on countering the limitation of amino acids. The research indicates that bees’ cellular machinery is geared towards ribosome stability instead of amino acid supplies.