Shrimp hemocyte homeostasis-associated protein (PmHHAP) interacts with WSSV134 to control apoptosis in white spot syndrome virus infection

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Hemocyte homeostasis-associated protein (PmHHAP) was first identified as a viral-responsive gene, due to a high upregulation in transcription following white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infection. Functional studies using RNA interference have suggested that PmHHAP is involved in hemocyte homeostasis by controlling apoptosis during WSSV infection. In this study, the role of PmHHAP in host–viral interactions was further investigated. Yeast two-hybrid assay and co-immunoprecipitation revealed that PmHHAP binds to an anti-apoptosis protein, WSSV134. The viral protein WSSV134 is a late protein of WSSV, expressed 24 h post infection (hpi). Gene silencing of WSSV134 in WSSV-infected shrimp resulted in a reduction of the expression level of the viral replication marker genes VP28, wsv477, and ie-1, which suggests that WSSV134 is likely involved in viral propagation. However, co-silencing of PmHHAP and WSSV134 counteracted the effects on WSSV infection, which implies the importance of the host–pathogen interaction between PmHHAP and WSSV134 in WSSV infection. In addition, caspase 3/7 activity was noticeably induced in the PmHHAP and WSSV134 co-silenced shrimp upon WSSV infection. Moreover, PmHHAP and WSSV134 inhibited caspase-induced activation of PmCasp in vitro in a non-competitive manner. Taken together, these results suggest that PmHHAP and WSSV134 play a role in the host–pathogen interaction and work concordantly to control apoptosis in WSSV infection.

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