MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNA (sncRNAs) whose primary function is the repression of mRNA target gene expression. Very often, a single microRNA binds to multiple transcripts thus a microRNA can regulate several biological processes. MicroRNAs can also interact with long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). The function of most lncRNAs is to this date unclear, however some are involved in key biological processes i.e epigenetic control or immune respones in several species such as mammals and insects.
Several insect species are susceptible to be infected by Nosema microsporidian parasites. Adult individuals of the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) are infected by the microsporidian parasite Nosema ceranae in the intestinal tract. In constrast, Nosema whitei, another Nosema species, infects red flour bettle larvae (Tribolium castaneum) killing the host for transmission.
We explore the role of ncRNAs in parasite infection in both insect species . We evaluate interactions of miRNA, mRNA and lncRNA comparing their properties and expression patterns to find potential common and differential responses of the hosts to the parasite. Using this strategy, we identified some candidate genes and ncRNAs that potentially regulate gene expression and respond to the parasite infection.