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1.  Baculovirus-Induced Climbing Behavior Favors Intraspecific Necrophagy and Efficient Disease Transmission in Spodoptera exigua 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(9):e0136742.
Shortly prior to death, many species of Lepidoptera infected with nucleopolyhedrovirus climb upwards on the host plant. This results in improved dissemination of viral occlusion bodies over plant foliage and an increased probability of transmission to healthy conspecific larvae. Following applications of Spodoptera exigua multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus for control of Spodoptera exigua on greenhouse-grown sweet pepper crops, necrophagy was observed by healthy S. exigua larvae that fed on virus-killed conspecifics. We examined whether this risky behavior was induced by olfactory or phagostimulant compounds associated with infected cadavers. Laboratory choice tests and olfactometer studies, involving infected and non-infected cadavers placed on spinach leaf discs, revealed no evidence for greater attraction of healthy larvae to virus-killed over non-infected cadavers. Physical contact or feeding on infected cadavers resulted in a very high incidence of transmission (82–93% lethal disease). Observations on the behavior of S. exigua larvae on pepper plants revealed that infected insects died on the uppermost 10% of foliage and closer to the plant stem than healthy conspecifics of the same stage, which we considered clear evidence of baculovirus-induced climbing behavior. Healthy larvae that subsequently foraged on the plant were more frequently observed closer to the infected than the non-infected cadaver. Healthy larvae also encountered and fed on infected cadavers significantly more frequently and more rapidly than larvae that fed on non-infected cadavers. Intraspecific necrophagy on infected cadavers invariably resulted in virus transmission and death of the necrophagous insect. We conclude that, in addition to improving the dissemination of virus particles over plant foliage, baculovirus-induced climbing behavior increases the incidence of intraspecific necrophagy in S. exigua, which is the most efficient mechanism of transmission of this lethal pathogen.
PMCID: PMC4581871  PMID: 26402061
2.  Rotavirus A-specific single-domain antibodies produced in baculovirus-infected insect larvae are protective in vivo 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:59.
Single-domain antibodies (sdAbs), also known as nanobodies or VHHs, are characterized by high stability and solubility, thus maintaining the affinity and therapeutic value provided by conventional antibodies. Given these properties, VHHs offer a novel alternative to classical antibody approaches. To date, VHHs have been produced mainly in E. coli, yeast, plants and mammalian cells. To apply the single-domain antibodies as a preventive or therapeutic strategy to control rotavirus infections in developing countries (444,000 deaths in children under 5 years of age) has to be minimized their production costs.
Here we describe the highly efficient expression of functional VHHs by the Improved Baculovirus Expression System (IBES® technology), which uses a baculovirus expression vector in combination with Trichoplusia ni larvae as living biofactories. Two VHHs, named 3B2 and 2KD1, specific for the inner capsid protein VP6 of Group A rotavirus, were expressed in insect larvae. The IBES® technology achieved very high expression of 3B2 and 2KD1, reaching 2.62% and 3.63% of the total soluble protein obtained from larvae, respectively. These expression levels represent up to 257 mg/L of protein extract after insect processing (1 L extract represents about 125 g of insect biomass or about 375 insect larvae). Larva-derived antibodies were fully functional when tested in vitro and in vivo, neutralizing Group A rotaviruses and protecting offspring mice against rotavirus-induced diarrhea.
Our results open up the possibility of using insects as living biofactories (IBES® technology) for the cost-efficient production of these and other fully functional VHHs to be used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, thereby eliminating concerns regarding the use of bacterial or mammalian cells. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that insects have been used as living biofactories to produce a VHH molecule.
PMCID: PMC3444942  PMID: 22953695
Single-domain antibodies; Therapeutic molecule; Neutralization; Rotavirus A; Insect; Baculovirus; IBES®technology
3.  Humoral and In Vivo Cellular Immunity against the Raw Insect-Derived Recombinant Leishmania infantum Antigens KMPII, TRYP, LACK, and papLe22 in Dogs from an Endemic Area 
Leishmania infantum causes visceral leishmaniasis, a severe zoonotic and systemic disease that is fatal if left untreated. Identification of the antigens involved in Leishmania-specific protective immune response is a research priority for the development of effective control measures. For this purpose, we evaluated, in 27 dogs from an enzootic zone, specific humoral and cellular immune response by delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin test both against total L. infantum antigen and the raw Trichoplusia ni insect-derived kinetoplastid membrane protein-11 (rKMPII), tryparedoxin peroxidase (rTRYP), Leishmania homologue of receptors for activated C kinase (rLACK), and 22-kDa potentially aggravating protein of Leishmania (rpapLe22) antigens from this parasite. rTRYP induced the highest number of positive DTH responses (55% of leishmanin skin test [LST]-positive dogs), showing that TRYP antigen is an important T cell immunogen, and it could be a promising vaccine candidate against this disease. When TRYP-DTH and KMPII-DTH tests were evaluated in parallel, 82% of LST-positive dogs were detected, suggesting that both antigens could be considered as components of a standardized DTH immunodiagnostic tool for dogs.
PMCID: PMC2990046  PMID: 21118936

Results 1-3 (3)