ok mutants of the silkworm, Bombyx mori, exhibit highly translucent larval skin resulting from the inability to incorporate uric acid into the epidermal cells. Here we report the identification of a gene responsible for the ok mutation using positional cloning and RNAi experiments. In two independent ok mutant strains, we found a 49-bp deletion and a 233-bp duplication, respectively, in mRNAs of a novel gene, Bm-. ok, which encodes a half-type ABC transporter, each of which results in translation of a truncated protein in each mutant. Although the Bm-. ok sequence was homologous to well-known transporter genes, white, scarlet, and brown in Drosophila, the discovery of novel orthologs in the genomes of lepidopteran, hymenopteran, and hemipteran insects identifies it as a member of a new distinct subfamily of transporters. Embryonic RNAi of Bm-. ok demonstrated that repression of Bm-. ok causes a translucent phenotype in the first-instar silkworm larva. We discuss the possibility that Bm-ok forms a heterodimer with another half-type ABC transporter, Bmwh3, and acts as a uric acid transporter in the silkworm epidermis.
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