Mitochondrial and innate immunity transcriptomes from Spodoptera frugiperda larvae infected with the Spodoptera frugiperda ascovirus.
Ascoviruses are large, enveloped DNA viruses that induce remarkable changes in cellular architecture during which the cell is partitioned into numerous vesicles for viral replication. Previous studies have shown that these vesicles arise from a process resembling apoptosis yet which differs after nuclear lysis in that mitochondria are not degraded but are modified by the virus, changing in size, shape, and motility. Moreover, infection does not provoke an obvious innate immune response. Thus, we used in vivo RNA sequencing to determine whether infection by the Spodoptera frugiperda ascovirus 1a (SfAV-1a) modified expression of host mitochondrial, cytoskeletal, and innate immunity genes. We show that transcripts from many mitochondrial genes were similar to those from uninfected controls, whereas others increased slightly during vesicle formation, including those for ATP6, ATP8 synthase, and NADH dehydrogenase subunits, supporting electron microscopy (EM) data that these organelles were conserved for virus replication. Transcripts from 58 of 106 cytoskeletal genes studied increased or decreased more than 2-fold postinfection. More than half coded for mitochondrial motor proteins. Similar increases occurred for innate immunity transcripts and their negative regulators, including those for Toll, melanization, and phagocytosis pathways. However, those for many antimicrobial peptides, such as moricin, increased more than 20-fold. In addition, transcripts for gloverin-3, spod_x_tox, Hdd23, and lebocin, also antimicrobial, increased more than 20-fold. Interestingly, a phenoloxidase inhibitor transcript increased 12-fold, apparently to interfere with melanization. SfAV-1a destroys most fat body cells by 7 days postinfection, so innate immunity gene transcripts apparently occur in remaining cells in this tissue and possibly other major tissues, namely, epidermis and tracheal matrix.