To elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying honeybee social behaviours, we identified a novel gene, Nb-1, whose expression in the worker brain changes according to the age-dependent division of labour in normal colonies. The open reading frames contained in the Nb-1 cDNA were not conserved in the homologue of a related species, suggesting that the Nb-1 gene product is a non-coding RNA. The distribution of Nb-1-expressing cells partially overlapped that of octopamine-immunoreactive cells and neurosecretory cells, the latter of which are involved in the synthesis and secretion of juvenile hormone (JH). Octopamine and JH control worker task transition, and thus Nb-1 might be involved in task transition through the modulation of octopamine/JH synthesis and secretion.
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