A new gene family (BAPs) of Cotesia bracovirus induces apoptosis of host hemocytes

Virulence. 2023 Dec;14(1):2171691. doi: 10.1080/21505594.2023.2171691.


Polydnaviruses (PDVs), obligatory symbionts with parasitoid wasps, function as host immune suppressors and growth and development regulator. PDVs can induce host haemocyte apoptosis, but the underlying mechanism remains largely unknown. Here, we provided evidence that, during the early stages of parasitism, the activated Cotesia vestalis bracovirus (CvBV) reduced the overall number of host haemocytes by inducing apoptosis. We found that one haemocyte-highly expressed CvBV gene, CvBV-26-4, could induce haemocyte apoptosis. Further analyses showed that CvBV-26-4 has four homologs from other Cotesia bracoviruses and BV from wasps in the genus Glyptapanteles, and all four of them possessed a similar structure containing 3 copies of a well-conserved motif (Gly-Tyr-Pro-Tyr, GYPY). Mass spectrometry analysis revealed that CvBV-26-4 was secreted into plasma by haemocytes and then degraded into peptides that induced the apoptosis of haemocytes. Moreover, ectopic expression of CvBV-26-4 caused fly haemocyte apoptosis and increased the susceptibility of flies to bacteria. Based on this research, a new family of bracovirus genes, Bracovirus apoptosis-inducing proteins (BAPs), was proposed. Furthermore, it was discovered that the development of wasp larvae was affected when the function of CvBV BAP was obstructed in the parasitized hosts. The results of our study indicate that the BAP gene family from the bracoviruses group is crucial for immunosuppression during the early stages of parasitism.

Keywords: Plutella xylostella; Polydnavirus; apoptosis; cotesia vestalis bracovirus; host immunity; novel gene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Hemocytes
  • Larva
  • Moths*
  • Polydnaviridae* / genetics
  • Wasps*

Grants and funding

This research was jointly funded by the Key Project of Laboratory of Lingnan Modern Agriculture (NT2021003), the Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (31630060) and National Key Research and Development Program of China (2019YFD0300104) to XXC; the National Science Foundation of China (31901942) to ZHW, the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFD0200400), the National Science Fund for Excellent Young Scholars (31622048), and the National Science Foundation of China (31772522) to JHH