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Molecular interactions and immune responses between Maize fine streak virus and the leafhopper vector Graminella nigrifrons through differential expression and RNA interference

Y. Chen, M. G. Redinbaugh, A. P. Michel
Insect molecular biology 2015 v.24 no.3 pp. 391-401
quantitative polymerase chain reaction, proteins, RNA interference, Zea mays, messenger RNA, corn, gene expression, insect vectors, peptidoglycans, genes, Maize fine streak virus, immune response, double-stranded RNA, Graminella nigrifrons, insect control, molting, mortality, pathogens
Graminella nigrifrons is the only known vector for Maize fine streak virus (MFSV). In this study, we used real‐time quantitative PCR to compare the expression profiles of transcripts that putatively function in the insect immune response: four peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRP‐SB1, ‐SD, ‐LC and LB), Toll, spaetzle, defensin, Dicer‐2 (Dcr‐2), Argonaut‐2 (Ago‐2) and Arsenic resistance protein 2 (Ars‐2). Except for PGRP‐LB and defensin, transcripts involved in humoral pathways were significantly suppressed in G. nigrifrons fed on MFSV‐infected maize. The abundance of three RNA interference (RNAi) pathway transcripts (Dcr‐2, Ago‐2, Ars‐2) was significantly lower in nontransmitting relative to transmitting G. nigrifrons. Injection with double‐stranded RNA (dsRNA) encoding segments of the PGRP‐LC and Dcr‐2 transcripts effectively reduced transcript levels by 90 and 75% over 14 and 22 days, respectively. MFSV acquisition and transmission were not significantly affected by injection of either dsRNA. Knock‐down of PGRP‐LC resulted in significant mortality (greater than 90%) at 27 days postinjection, and resulted in more abnormal moults relative to those injected with Dcr‐2 or control dsRNA. The use of RNAi to silence G. nigrifrons transcripts will facilitate the study of gene function and pathogen transmission, and may provide approaches for developing novel targets of RNAi‐based pest control.