Assoc. Prof. Apinunt Udomkit, Ph.D.
Shrimp Molecular Biology
Ph.D. (Molecular Biology), University of Edinburgh, UK, 1996
I have long research interest in understanding molecular mechanism controlling reproduction in both male and female of economically important shrimp. Current research in my laboratory includes the study of a regulatory pathway of vitellogenin synthesis, which is an important process during ovarian maturation in shrimp. We recently demonstrated that a retinoid X receptor (RXR) acts as a potential transcription factor that regulates the expression of vitellogenin gene. Identification and functional study of RXR-partner proteins will help elucidate the detailed mechanism underlining vitellogenesis regulatory pathway. In addition, proteins in the piRNA pathway, namely PIWI proteins were identified in shrimp, and shown to be involved in spermatogenesis process in male shrimp. PIWI proteins regulate transposon expression during spermatogenesis. Suppression of Piwi gene expression leads to transposon reactivation and defective spermatogenesis in shrimp testis. We currently work on piRNAs and proteins associated with PIWI in the regulation of spermatogenesis. These will enable us to acquire in-depth understanding in shrimp reproductive regulation that will help improve shrimp production in the future.
My research interest also focuses on the bursicon protein, which has been shown to be capable of inducing innate immunity in invertebrates. Therefore, bursicon is a potential protein that can be developed as a tool for protecting shrimp from viral diseases that has long been a major constraint of shrimp aquaculture.Research Achievement (Optional):
Shrimp production has been relied on eye ablation to induce ovarian maturation and spawning as it removes the synthesis and storage sites of a gonad-inhibiting hormone (GIH), which is the hormone that inhibits ovarian maturation. Despite giving reliable spawning of the female shrimp, eye ablation method also has several drawbacks such as the reduction in the quality of eggs after several rounds of spawning, and the overuse of female broodstock. In addition, production of shrimp from eye ablation mother are considered unethical methods and becoming important trade barrier in the world market. We have developed a molecular technique using double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) to suppress the expression of GIH gene, and was able to induce ovarian maturation without eye ablation. The application of this method in the hatcheries could help enhance shrimp production in terms of both quality and quantity.
This research won the 2014 outstanding research award from the National Research Council of Thailand and Mahidol University award in the same year.
- Ho T, Panyim S, Udomkit A. Assessment of the function of gonad-specific PmAgo4 in viral replication and spermatogenesis in Penaeus monodon. Dev Comp Immunol. 2021;114:103824.
- Sukthaworn S, Panyim S, Udomkit A. Homologues of Piwi control transposable elements and development of male germline in Penaeus monodon. Comp Biochem Physiol Part A Mol Integr Physiol. 2020;250:110807.
- Sanitt P, Panyim S, Udomkit A. An ATP synthase beta subunit is required for internalization of dsRNA into shrimp cells. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2020;106:948-58.
- Kluebsoongnoen J, Panyim S, Udomkit A. Regulation of vitellogenin gene expression under the negative modulator, gonad-inhibiting hormone in Penaeus monodon. Comp Biochem Physiol Part A Mol Integr Physiol. 2020;243:110682.
- Ho T, Panyim S, Udomkit A. Suppression of Argonautes compromises viral infection in Penaeus monodon. Dev Comp Immunol. 2019;90:130–7.
1 scholarship for M.Sc. student is available.