The goal of this study was to identify the genes coding for beta-N-acetylhexosaminidases in the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) Ceratitis capitata, one of the most destructive agricultural pests, belonging to the Tephritidae family, order Diptera. Two dimeric beta-N-acetylhexosaminidases, HEXA and HEXB, have been recently identified on Drosophila sperm. These enzymes are involved in egg binding through interactions with complementary carbohydrates on the surface of the egg shell. Three genes, Hexosaminidase I (Hexol), Hexosaminidase 2 (Hexo2) and fused lobes (fdl), encode for HEXA and HEXB subunits. The availability of C capitata EST libraries derived from embryos and adult heads allowed us to identify three sequences homologous to the D. melanogaster Hexol, Hexo2 and fdl genes. Here, we report the expression profile analysis of CcHexo1 CcHexo2 and Ccfdld in several tissues, organs and stages. Ccfdl expression was highest in heads of both sexes and in whole adult females. In the testis and ovary the three genes showed distinct spatial and temporal expression patterns. All the mRNAs were detectable in early stages of spermatogenesis; CcHexo2 and Ccfdl were also expressed in early elongating spermatid cysts. All three genes are expressed in the ovarian nurse cells. CcHexo1 and Ccfdl are stage specific, since they have been observed in stages 12 and 13 during oocyte growth, when programmed cell death occurs in nurse cells. The expression pattern of the three genes in medfly gonads suggests that, as their Drosophila counterparts, they may encode for proteins involved in gametogenesis and fertilization.
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