A novel white spot syndrome virus protein WSSV164 controls prophenoloxidases,PmproPOs in shrimp melanization cascade

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Melanization, mediated by the prophenoloxidase (proPO)-activating system, is an important innate immune response in invertebrates. The implication of the proPO system in antiviral response and the suppression of host proPO activation by the viral protein have previously been demonstrated in shrimp. However, the molecular mechanism of viral-host interactions in the proPO cascade remains largely unexplored. Here, we characterized the viral protein, namely, WSSV164, which was initially identified from the forward suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) cDNA library of the PmproPO1/2 co-silenced black tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon that was challenged with white spot syndrome virus (WSSV). Using the yeast two-hybrid system, WSSV164 was found to interact with the PmproPO2 protein. The subsequent validation assay by co-immunoprecipitation revealed that WSSV164 directly bound to both PmproPO1 and PmproPO2. The gene silencing experiment was carried out to explore the role of WSSV164 in the control of the proPO pathway in shrimp, and the results showed that suppression of WSSV164 can restore PO activity in WSSV-infected shrimp hemolymph. The recombinant proteins of PmproPO1 and PmproPO2 were produced in Sf-9 cells and were shown to be successfully activated by exogenous trypsin and endogenous serine proteinases from shrimp hemocyte lysate supernatant (HLS), yielding PO activity in vitro. Moreover, the activated PO activity in shrimp HLS was dose-dependently reduced by the recombinant WSSV164 protein, suggesting that WSSV164 may interfere with the activation of the proPO system in shrimp. Taken together, these results suggest an alternative infection route of WSSV through the encoded viral protein WSSV164 that binds to the PmproPO1 and PmproPO2 proteins, interfering with the activation of the melanization cascade in shrimp.

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