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J Virol. 2001 Jan;75(2):996-1003.

Central role of hemocytes in Autographa californica M nucleopolyhedrovirus pathogenesis in Heliothis virescens and Helicoverpa zea.

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  • 1Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3102, USA.


Autographa californica M nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) can infect and kill a wide range of larval lepidopteran hosts, but the dosage required to achieve mortal infection varies greatly. Using a reporter gene construct, we identified key differences between AcMNPV pathogenesis in Heliothis virescens and Helicoverpa zea, a fully permissive and a semipermissive host, respectively. Even though there was more than a 1,000-fold difference in the susceptibilities of these two species to mortal infection, there was no significant difference in their susceptibilities to primary infections in the midgut or secondary infections in the tracheal epidermis. Foci of infection within the tracheal epidermis of H. zea, however, were melanized and encapsulated by 48 h after oral inoculation, a host response not observed in H. virescens. Further, H. zea hemocytes, unlike those of H. virescens, were highly resistant to AcMNPV infection; reporter gene expression was observed only rarely even though virus was taken up readily, and nucleocapsids were transported to the nucleus. Collectively, these results demonstrated that hemocytes-by removing virus from the hemolymph instead of amplifying it and by participating in the encapsulation of infection foci-together with the host's melanization response, formed the basis of H. zea's resistance to fatal infection by AcMNPV.

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