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Parasitology. 1998;116 Suppl:S57-64.

Modulation of immune responses to parasitoids by polydnaviruses.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, University of California-Riverside 92521, USA.


Parasitoids are parasites that invariably kill their host. Polydnaviruses are injected by parasitoid wasps into the body cavity of their insect host and cause immunosuppression, allowing the parasitoid to develop in the absence of encapsulation. One of the targets of the polydnaviruses are the haemocytes of the host, which undergo significant changes in response to entry of the virus. In some systems, haemocyte apoptosis is induced, or haemocyte clumping may be seen; in others, the cells round up and fail to adhere to a substrate. Effects on haemocytes may be transitory or permanent (cell death). Various polydnavirus gene products have been identified that interfere with normal haemocyte function. Phenoloxidase activity also is inhibited during parasitism, and the effect is inducible by polydnavirus. In some systems, venom components may act synergistically with polydnavirus in mediating the virally-induced effects on the host immune system. Polydnaviruses are powerful influences on the host immune system, which serve to permit successful development of the parasitoid without triggering the host immune response.

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