Journal of virology

Transcriptome responses of the host Trichoplusia ni to infection by the baculovirus Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus.

PMID 25231311


Productive infection of Trichoplusia ni cells by the baculovirus Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) leads to expression of ~156 viral genes and results in dramatic cell remodeling. How the cell transcriptome responds to viral infection was unknown due to the lack of a reference genome and transcriptome for T. ni. We used an ~60-Gb RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data set from infected and uninfected T. ni cells to generate and annotate a de novo transcriptome assembly of approximately 70,322 T. ni unigenes (assembled transcripts), representing the 48-h infection cycle. Using differential gene expression analysis, we found that the majority of host transcripts were downregulated after 6 h postinfection (p.i.) and throughout the remainder of the infection. In contrast, 5.7% (4,028) of the T. ni unigenes were upregulated during the early period (0 to 6 h p.i.), followed by a decrease through the remainder of the infection cycle. Also, a small subset of genes related to metabolism and stress response showed a significant elevation of transcript levels at 18 and 24 h p.i. but a decrease thereafter. We also examined the responses of genes belonging to a number of specific pathways of interest, including stress responses, apoptosis, immunity, and protein trafficking. We identified specific pathway members that were upregulated during the early phase of the infection. Combined with the parallel analysis of AcMNPV expression, these results provide both a broad and a detailed view of how baculovirus infection impacts the host cell transcriptome to evade cellular defensive responses, to modify cellular biosynthetic pathways, and to remodel cell structure. Baculoviruses are insect-specific DNA viruses that are highly pathogenic to their insect hosts. In addition to their use for biological control of certain insects, baculoviruses also serve as viral vectors for numerous biotechnological applications, such as mammalian cell transduction and protein expression for vaccine production. While there is considerable information regarding viral gene expression in infected cells, little is known regarding responses of the host cell to baculovirus infection. In these studies, we assembled a cell transcriptome from the host Trichoplusia ni and used that transcriptome to analyze changes in host cell gene expression throughout the infection cycle. The study was performed in parallel with a prior study of changes in viral gene expression. Combined, these studies provide an unprecedented new level of detail and an overview of events in the infection cycle, and they will stimulate new experimental approaches to understand, modify, and utilize baculoviruses for a variety of applications.