Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, NARO

Extension and publication of silkworm gene expression data

- Development of insect-based technologies and promotion of data-driven research are expected -

The National Agricultural Food Research Organization (NARO) has created and published the data indicating the type of gene and where & to what extent they work (comprehensive gene expression) in silkworm larvae during the critical period for silk protein production. It is expected that this research outcome will further highlight the high protein synthesis capacity of silkworms and pave the way for using silkworms for the production of useful proteins.


Silkworms are domesticated insects for silk production. So far, NARO has developed a technique to make silkworms produce useful proteins by using other organisms' genes in the organs (silk glands) where two types of proteins (fibroin and sericin) are synthesized. The technology has been used to produce drug substances for veterinary medicines. At present, we are working to improve this technology to increase the production of useful proteins so that they can be used in the production of a wide range of proteins.

To improve the production efficiency of useful proteins, not only individual gene functions but also gene expression data that comprehensively capture changes in gene expression under specific conditions are important. Therefore, we acquired comprehensive gene expression data in silkworm larvae during the critical period for silk protein production. In addition, we have made it possible to use the vast amount of genetic information in these databases by making them correspond to human and Drosophila gene information. Since the gene expression data are obtained especially in the diverse and important lifetime of silkworms, it is expected to facilitate not only the study of useful protein production in silkworms but also the study of various phases from the basis to the application of silkworms and other species. Therefore, we have decided to publish this data.

The data obtained are published in the silkworm genome database 'KAIKObase' published by NARO. In the future, we will conduct data-driven research using comprehensive gene expression data to elucidate the relationship between individual genes and identify genes that control the production of useful proteins, so as to improve the ability of silkworms to produce useful proteins such as active substances for animal and human medicines, with the aim of disseminating this technology.

Relevant information

Budget: Project commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: 'Creation of Innovative Industries by Sericultural Revolution', the Strategic Innovation Creation Program (SIP) of the Cabinet Office: Development and practical utilization of the production technology of useful proteins and new high-performance materials using insects (silkworms)

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Published paper

Kakeru Yokoi*, Takuya Tsubota*, Akiya Jouraku, Hideki Sezutsu and Hidemasa Bono Reference Transcriptome Data in Silkworm Bombyx mori. Insects 2021, 12(6), 519;
*Equivalent contribution of both authors