Changes in gene expression in the permissive larval host lightbrown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana, Tortricidae) in response to EppoNPV (Baculoviridae) infection


Dr JT Christeller, The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, Private Bag 11030, Manawatu Mail Centre, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand. Tel: 64 6 953 7666; fax: 64 6 953 7701; e-mail:


Host cell and virus gene expression were measured five days after per os inoculation of 3rd instar lightbrown apple moth (LBAM) larvae with the Epiphyas postvittana nucleopolyhedrovirus (EppoNPV). Microarray analysis identified 84 insect genes that were up-regulated and 18 genes that were down-regulated in virus-infected larvae compared with uninfected larvae. From the 134 viral open reading frames represented on the microarray, 81 genes showed strong expression. Of the 38 functionally identifiable regulated insect genes, 23 coded for proteins that have roles in one of five processes; regulation of transcription and translation, induction of apoptosis, and maintenance of both juvenility and actin cytoskeletal integrity. Of the 34 functionally identifiable viral genes that were most strongly expressed, 12 had functions associated with these five processes, as did a further seven viral genes which were expressed at slightly lower levels. A survey of the LBAM-expressed sequence tag library identified further genes involved in these processes. In total, 135 insect genes and 38 viral genes were analysed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Twenty-one insect genes were strongly up-regulated and 31 genes strongly down-regulated. All 38 viral genes examined were highly expressed. These data suggest that induction of apoptosis and regulation of juvenility are the major ‘battlegrounds’ between virus and insect, with the majority of changes observed representing viral control of insect gene expression. Transcription and translational effects seem to be exerted largely through modulation of mRNA and protein degradation. Examples of attempts by the insect to repel the infection via changes in gene expression within these same processes were, however, also noted. The data also showed the extent to which viral transcription dominated in the infected insects at five days post inoculation.