Insulin-blocking protein may be the secret to queen ants long lives

Indian leaping ant queens reside 9 occasions longer than employee females in the identical colony, which may be due to insulin-blocking proteins they produce as soon as they start replica


1 September 2022

A employee ant of the Indian leaping ant species

Hua Yan/NYU

A protein that suppresses the manufacturing of insulin may be behind the unusually long lives of queens in a species of Indian leaping ant (Harpegnathos saltator). The discovery supplies new perception into ageing, with classes that might apply to the longevity of extra complicated species.

H. saltator queens reside almost 9 occasions as long as feminine employee ants, surviving for round 5 years, whereas staff often die after round seven months. Queens beginning all the ants in a colony. Reproduction is energy-intensive and leads to a rise in ranges of insulin, a hormone that helps break down meals into power. In most animals, an abundance of insulin is linked to a shorter lifespan, however Indian leaping ants break this rule.

It’s contradictory to all the things we learn about the hyperlink between replica and ageing, says Claude Desplan at New York University.

He and his colleagues analysed insulin manufacturing in feminine Indian leaping ants. After a queen H. saltator ant dies naturally, a handful of beforehand infertile feminine employee ants vie for her place. As these pseudoqueens begin producing eggs, their lifespan will increase from months to years.

Desplan and his colleagues plucked queen ants from their colonies to create pseudoqueens, which then churned out considerably extra insulin than the feminine employee ants in the colony.

Female H. saltator ants have two insulin signalling pathways: one which drives egg manufacturing, referred to as MAPK, and one which performs a task in ageing, referred to as AKT. Usually, the hormone travels each routes, however when the ants had been promoted to pseudoqueens they started producing a protein referred to as Imp-L2 that blocks the pathway that leads to ageing whereas leaving the pathway for egg manufacturing open.

When they returned the pseudoqueens to a colony with a real queen, the ants reverted again to their previous roles as staff and had shorter lifespans. Their insulin ranges fell, and so did their manufacturing of the anti-insulin protein.

This work pushes nicely past what we knew earlier than about the biochemistry of insulin signalling in ants, says Vikram Chandra at Harvard University, who wasnt concerned in the analysis. Chandra says he would nonetheless like to see if blocking the AKT pathway extends the lives of employee ants however acknowledges such a examine would take years due to the species lifespan. Without doing that, it’s very laborious to know whether or not this really issues for lifespan, he says.

Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.abm8767

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