Bombyx mori homolog of tumor suppressor p53 is involved in apoptosis-mediated antiviral immunity of B. mori cells infected with nucleopolyhedrovirus.
Apoptosis is important in antiviral immunity and affects viral multiplication and pathogenesis. Here, we showed that Bombyx mori cells transiently expressing B. mori homolog of the tumor suppressor p53 (Bm-p53) protein underwent apoptosis accompanied by elevated caspase-3-like protease activity and processing of B. mori Dronc (Bm-Dronc). RNAi-mediated silencing of bm-p53 expression, which significantly diminished accumulation of bm-p53 transcript and Bm-p53 protein, prevented apoptosis of B. mori cells infected with a recombinant B. mori nucleopolyhedrovirus defective in the anti-apoptotic p35 gene (vBmΔp35) and abolished the activation of caspase-3-like protease and processing of Bm-Dronc. Apoptosis in vBmΔp35-infected B. mori cells is associated with viral DNA replication, suggesting involvement of the DNA damage response. The Bm-p53 pro-apoptotic function is also found in Spodoptera frugiperda and Lymantria dispar cells. These results indicate that apoptosis induction in vBmΔp35-infected B. mori cells is a Bm-p53-mediated process promoted by the commencement of viral DNA replication.