Tracking and elucidating alphavirus host protein interactions

Viruses represent a constantly evolving challenge to the fitness and survival of their cellular hosts.

Thus, not surprisingly, investigations into virus-host interactions have produced important and fundamental new insights into both cellular and pathophysiology (Panda and Cherry, 2012).

These studies have almost exclusively focused on RNA viruses (Xu and Cherry, 2014).

In contrast to Dipterans, most virus-host studies in the order Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) have focused on DNA viruses, particularly baculoviruses (Ikeda et al., 2013).

Many animals, including insects, have been used as model organisms to investigate viral infections.

These studies have, for example, provided insights into how viruses replicate and how they suppress their host's immune system.

Using RNAi to knock down the expression of candidate L.

The gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) has been one of the most prolific North American hardwood forest pests since its accidental release in the late 1800’s (Sparks et al., 2013). dispar and other Lepidopterans to virus infection is of particular importance in designing new and effective virus-based biocontrol strategies to minimize the devastating economic impact these species continue to have on the forest industry (Sparks et al., 2013). dispar-derived cell lines are susceptible to a wide variety of invertebrate DNA viruses, and as such, they are often used in virus-host studies (Sparks and Gundersen-Rindal, 2011). dispar-derived LD652 cells can also support a limited infection by vaccinia virus (VACV), a vertebrate poxvirus encoding a large ds DNA genome (Li et al., 1998).

During infection of LD652 cells, VACV undergoes early gene expression, DNA replication and late gene expression, but the infection is abortive due to a defect in one or more steps of virion morphogenesis (Li et al., 1998).

Importantly, our studies reveal exciting new opportunities to study virus-host interactions in experimentally-tractable Lepidopteran systems.

Viruses can infect species as diverse as bacteria, plants and animals, and once they have infected an organism they hijack its cells to rapidly replicate their own genetic material, which is made of DNA or RNA.

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These studies have provided key insights into highly conserved mechanisms by which Lepidopterans combat DNA virus infection (Ikeda et al., 2013).

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