Nat Commun. 2022 Jun 9;13(1):3316. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31003-1.
The silk gland of the domesticated silkworm Bombyx mori, is a remarkable organ that produces vast amounts of silk with exceptional properties. Little is known about which silk gland cells execute silk protein synthesis and its precise spatiotemporal control. Here, we use single-cell RNA sequencing to build a comprehensive cell atlas of the silkworm silk gland, consisting of 14,972 high-quality cells representing 10 distinct cell types, in three early developmental stages. We annotate all 10 cell types and determine their distributions in each region of the silk gland. Additionally, we decode the developmental trajectory and gene expression status of silk gland cells. Finally, we discover marker genes involved in the regulation of silk gland development and silk protein synthesis. Altogether, this work reveals the heterogeneity of silkworm silk gland cells and their gene expression dynamics, affording a deeper understanding of silk-producing organs at the single-cell level.