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Depletion of host cell riboflavin reduces Wolbachia levels in cultured mosquito cells

Fallon, Ann M., Baldridge, Gerald D., Carroll, Elissa M., Kurtz, Cassandra M.
In vitro cellular & developmental biology 2014 v.50 no.8 pp. 707-713
Culicidae, Laodelphax striatellus, Nematoda, Wolbachia, antibiotics, arthropods, biochemical pathways, culture media, genome, hosts, lethal concentration 50, polymerase chain reaction, proteins, proteomics, riboflavin
Wolbachia is an obligate intracellular alphaproteobacterium that occurs in arthropod and nematode hosts. Wolbachia presumably provides a fitness benefit to its hosts, but the basis for its retention and spread in host populations remains unclear. Wolbachia genomes retain biosynthetic pathways for some vitamins, and the possibility that these vitamins benefit host cells provides a potential means of selecting for Wolbachia-infected cell lines. To explore whether riboflavin produced by Wolbachia is available to its host cell, we established that growth of uninfected C7-10 mosquito cells decreases in riboflavin-depleted culture medium. A well-studied inhibitor of riboflavin uptake, lumiflavin, further inhibits growth of uninfected C7-10 cells with an LC₅₀ of approximately 12 μg/ml. Growth of C/wStr1 mosquito cells, infected with Wolbachia from the planthopper, Laodelphax striatellus, was enhanced in medium containing low levels of lumiflavin, but Wolbachia levels decreased. Lumiflavin-enhanced growth thus resembled the improved growth that accompanies treatment with antibiotics that deplete Wolbachia, rather than a metabolic advantage provided by the Wolbachia infection. We used the polymerase chain reaction to validate the decrease in Wolbachia abundance and evaluated our results in the context of a proteomic analysis in which we detected nearly 800 wStr proteins. Our data indicate that Wolbachia converts riboflavin to FMN and FAD for its own metabolic needs, and does not provide a source of riboflavin for its host cell.