Litopenaeus vannameiactivating transcription factor 6 alpha gene involvement in ER-stress response and white spot symptom virus infection

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A previous study found that inositol-requiring enzyme-1-X-box binding protein 1 (IRE1-XBP1) pathway and the protein kinase RNA (PKR)-like ER kinase-eIF2α (PERK-eIF2α) pathway of shrimp play roles in the unfolded protein response (UPR). And they also be proved that was involved in white spot symptom virus (WSSV) infection. Yet the functions of the third branch in shrimp UPR are still unclear. In this study, we showed that upon UPR activation, activating transcription factor 6 alpha (LvATF6α) of Litopenaeus vannamei was cleaved and transferred from the cytoplasm to the nucleus in 293T cells, indicating that the ATF6 pathway in shrimp is also a branch of UPR. Furthermore, LvATF6α could reduce the apoptosis rate of Drosophila Schneider 2 (S2) cells treated with actinomycin, and knock-down expression of LvATF6α increased the apoptosis rate of shrimp hemocytes. In vivo testing revealed that the short from LvATF6α (LvATF6α-s) was obviously increased after UPR activation or WSSV infection, indicating that the ATF6 pathway was activated in L. vannamei gills under such circumstances. Moreover, knock-down expression of LvATF6α could reduce the cumulative mortality and WSSV copy number in WSSV-infected shrimp. Further study revealed that WSSV may profit from shrimp ATF6 pathway activation in two aspects. First, LvATF6α-s significantly upregulated the expression of the WSSV genes (wsv023, wsv045, wsv083, wsv129, wsv222, wsv249, and wsv343). Second, LvATF6α-s inhibited apoptosis by negatively regulating the apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 - (c-Jun N-terminal kinase) pathway. All of these evidences suggested that the ATF6 pathway is a member of the L. vannamei UPR, and it is also engaged in WSSV infection.

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