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Gene expression profiling of Spodoptera frugiperda hemocytes and fat body using cDNA microarray reveals polydnavirus-associated variations in lepidopteran host genes transcript levels

M Barat-Houari1, F Hilliou2, F-X Jousset1, L Sofer2, E Deleury2, J Rocher1, M Ravallec1, L Galibert1, P Delobel3, R Feyereisen2, P Fournier1 and A-N Volkoff1*

Author Affiliations

1 UMR 1231 Biologie Intégrative et Virologie des Insectes. INRA – Université de Montpellier II. Place Eugène Bataillon, Case Courrier 101, 34 095 Montpellier Cedex, France

2 UMR 1112 R.O.S.E. INRA – Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Laboratoire de Génomique Fonctionnelle des Insectes, 400 route des Chappes, BP 167, 06 903 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France

3 INRA U.M.R. Sciences pour l'Oenologie, Equipe Microbiologie – Bât 28, 2, place Viala, 34 060 Montpellier Cedex 01, France

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:160  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-160

Published: 21 June 2006



Genomic approaches provide unique opportunities to study interactions of insects with their pathogens. We developed a cDNA microarray to analyze the gene transcription profile of the lepidopteran pest Spodoptera frugiperda in response to injection of the polydnavirus HdIV associated with the ichneumonid wasp Hyposoter didymator. Polydnaviruses are associated with parasitic ichneumonoid wasps and are required for their development within the lepidopteran host, in which they act as potent immunosuppressive pathogens. In this study, we analyzed transcriptional variations in the two main effectors of the insect immune response, the hemocytes and the fat body, after injection of filter-purified HdIV.


Results show that 24 hours post-injection, about 4% of the 1750 arrayed host genes display changes in their transcript levels with a large proportion (76%) showing a decrease. As a comparison, in S. frugiperda fat body, after injection of the pathogenic JcDNV densovirus, 8 genes display significant changes in their transcript level. They differ from the 7 affected by HdIV and, as opposed to HdIV injection, are all up-regulated. Interestingly, several of the genes that are modulated by HdIV injection have been shown to be involved in lepidopteran innate immunity. Levels of transcripts related to calreticulin, prophenoloxidase-activating enzyme, immulectin-2 and a novel lepidopteran scavenger receptor are decreased in hemocytes of HdIV-injected caterpillars. This was confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR analysis but not observed after injection of heat-inactivated HdIV. Conversely, an increased level of transcripts was found for a galactose-binding lectin and, surprisingly, for the prophenoloxidase subunits. The results obtained suggest that HdIV injection affects transcript levels of genes encoding different components of the host immune response (non-self recognition, humoral and cellular responses).


This analysis of the host-polydnavirus interactions by a microarray approach indicates that the presence of HdIV induces, directly or indirectly, variations in transcript levels of specific host genes, changes that could be responsible in part for the alterations observed in the parasitized host physiology. Development of such global approaches will allow a better understanding of the strategies employed by parasites to manipulate their host physiology, and will permit the identification of potential targets of the immunosuppressive polydnaviruses.