Inhibition of dicer activity in lepidopteran and dipteran cells by baculovirus-mediated expression of Flock House virus B2.
Prior studies have suggested that insect DNA viruses are negatively affected by dicer-2-mediated RNA interference (RNAi). To examine this further, we utilized an in vitro assay to measure dicer activity in lepidopteran and dipteran cells, combined with baculoviruses expressing the RNAi suppressor B2 from Flock House virus or Aedes aegypti dicer-2 (Aedicer-2) using a constitutive heat shock promoter. Addition of cell lysates containing baculovirus-expressed B2 to lysates from dipteran (S2, Aag2) or lepidopteran (Sf9) cells inhibited endogenous dicer activity in a dose-dependent manner, while expression of Aedicer-2 restored siRNA production in Ae. albopictus C6/36 cells, which are dicer-2 defective. However, B2 expression from the constitutive heat shock promoter had no impact on baculovirus replication or virulence in cell lines or larvae that were either highly permissive (Trichoplusia ni) or less susceptible (Spodoptera frugiperda) to infection. We determined that this constitutive level of B2 expression had little to no ability to suppress dicer activity in cell lysates, but higher expression of B2, following heat shock treatment, inhibited dicer activity in all cells tested. Thus, we cannot rule out the possibility that optimized expression of B2 or other RNAi suppressors may increase baculovirus replication and expression of heterologous proteins by baculoviruses.