Novel insights into the insect trancriptome response to a natural DNA virus

Seanna J McTaggart, Tidbury Hannah, Stephen Bridgett, Jennie S Garbutt, Gaganjot Kaur, Mike Boots

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Little is known about invertebrate responses to DNA viruses. Here, we infect a commercially important pest moth species Plodia interpunctella with its naturally infecting DNA virus. We sequenced, assembled and annotated the complete transcriptome of the moth, and a partial transcriptome of the virus. We then tested for differential gene expression between moths that were exposed to the virus and controls.

RESULTS: We found 51 genes that were differentially expressed in moths exposed to a DNA baculovirus compared to controls. Gene set enrichment analysis revealed that cuticle proteins were significantly overrepresented in this group of genes. Interestingly, 6 of the 7 differentially expressed cuticle proteins were downregulated, suggesting that baculoviruses are able to manipulate its host's response. In fact, an additional 29 of the 51 genes were also downregulated in exposed compared with control animals, including a gram-negative binding protein. In contrast, genes involved in transposable element movement were upregulated after infection.

CONCLUSIONS: We present the first experiment to measure genome-wide gene expression in an insect after infection with a natural DNA virus. Our results indicate that cuticle proteins might be key genes underpinning the response to DNA viruses. Furthermore, the large proportion of genes that were downregulated after viral exposure suggests that this virus is actively manipulating the insect immune response. Finally, it appears that transposable element activity might increase during viral invasion. Combined, these results provide much needed host candidate genes that respond to DNA viral invaders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310
JournalBMC Genomics
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2015


  • Animals
  • Baculoviridae/physiology
  • Genome
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Insect Proteins/genetics
  • Moths/genetics
  • Transcriptome


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