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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Mosquito and Fly Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #254947

Title: Defensive reaper - Induction of mx and Apoptosis in mosquito midgut cells as an innate immune response to baculovirus infection

item LIU, BO - University Of Florida
item Becnel, James
item ZHANG, YANPING - University Of Florida
item ZHOU, LIE - University Of Florida

Submitted to: Cell Death and Differentiation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/4/2011
Publication Date: 1/15/2011
Citation: Liu, B., Becnel, J.J., Zhang, Y., Zhou, L. 2011. Defensive reaper - Induction of mx and Apoptosis in mosquito midgut cells as an innate immune response to baculovirus infection. Cell Death and Differentiation. 18:1337-1345. DOI: 10.1038/CDD.2011.8.

Interpretive Summary: Mosquitoes are important vectors of diseases to man and animals and new control strategies are being investigated by ARS scientists. One group of new microbial control agents under investigation are mosquito pathogenic viruses. Understanding the interactions between these viruses and the mosquito host are crucial to further development. In this collaborative research project between ARS and University of Florida researchers, the mosquito response to attack by a killer virus was investigated. It was discovered that a defensive pathway that involved programmed cell death was activated in response to viral infection but was blocked by the virus (mechanism unknown) in susceptible hosts but not in non-susceptible mosquitoes. Understanding the pathways involved in mosquito defensive response to viral infection and the means to block these responses can provide important clues to pathogenic virus host range as well as vector compatibility to other types of viruses in mosquitoes.

Technical Abstract: Many vertebrate and insect viruses posses anti-apoptotic genes that are required for their infectivity. This has led to the hypothesis that apoptosis is an innate immunoresponse important for limiting virus infections. The role of apoptosis may be especially important in insect anti-viral defense because of the lack of adaptive immunity. However, the cellular mechanism that elicits apoptosis in response to viral infection in insects has not been determined. Moreover, observations from cultured cells seem to suggest that apoptosis is a late response to viral proliferation and thus has little role in limiting infection. Using an in vivo infection system with the mosquito Baculovirus CuniNPV, we demonstrated that mx, the mosquito ortholog of Drosophila pro-apoptotic gene reaper, is specifically induced in larval midgut cells following viral infection. More importantly, rapid induction of mx and apoptosis plays a significant role in determining the susceptibility to CuniNPV infection in a non- permissive host. Inhibition of apoptosis with caspase inhibitor allowed infection of CuniNPV to become established in larvae of an otherwise refractory mosquito Aedes aegypti . Our study provides the first evidence that a reaper-like pro-apoptotic gene is involved in mediating insect innate immunity. In addition, it demonstrated that pro-apoptotic response could play a significant role in limiting viral infection and determining vector compatibility.