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Valzania, L., Romani, P., Tian, L., Li, S., Cavaliere, V., Pennacchio, F., Gargiulo, G. (2014). A Polydnavirus ANK Protein Acts as Virulence Factor by Disrupting the Function of Prothoracic Gland Steroidogenic Cells.  PLoS ONE 9(4): e95104.
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Research paper

Polydnaviruses are obligate symbionts integrated as proviruses in the genome of some ichneumonoid wasps that parasitize lepidopteran larvae. Polydnavirus free viral particles, which are injected into the host at oviposition, express virulence factors that impair immunity and development. To date, most studies have focused on the molecular mechanisms underpinning immunosuppression, whereas how viral genes disrupt the endocrine balance remains largely uninvestigated. Using Drosophila as a model system, the present report analyzes the function of a member of the ankyrin gene family of the bracovirus associated with Toxoneuron nigriceps, a larval parasitoid of the noctuid moth Heliothis virescens. We found that the TnBVank1 expression in the Drosophila prothoracic gland blocks the larval-pupal molt. This phenotype can be rescued by feeding the larvae with 20-hydroxyecdysone. The localization of the TnBVANK1 is restricted to the cytoplasm where it interacts with Hrs and Alix marked endosomes. Collectively, our data demonstrate that the TnBVANK1 protein acts as a virulence factor that causes the disruption of ecdysone biosynthesis and developmental arrest by impairing the vesicular traffic of ecdysteroid precursors in the prothoracic gland steroidogenic cells.

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PMC3990622 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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