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1.  Replication of Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus in Its Whitefly Vector, Bemisia tabaci 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(19):9791-9803.
Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) is a begomovirus transmitted exclusively by the whitefly Bemisia tabaci in a persistent, circulative manner. Replication of TYLCV in its vector remains controversial, and thus far, the virus has been considered to be nonpropagative. Following 8 h of acquisition on TYLCV-infected tomato plants or purified virions and then transfer to non-TYLCV-host cotton plants, the amounts of virus inside whitefly adults significantly increased (>2-fold) during the first few days and then continuously decreased, as measured by the amounts of genes on both virus DNA strands. Reported alterations in insect immune and defense responses upon virus retention led us to hypothesize a role for the immune response in suppressing virus replication. After virus acquisition, stress conditions were imposed on whiteflies, and the levels of three viral gene sequences were measured over time. When whiteflies were exposed to TYLCV and treatment with two different pesticides, the virus levels continuously increased. Upon exposure to heat stress, the virus levels gradually decreased, without any initial accumulation. Switching of whiteflies between pesticide, heat stress, and control treatments caused fluctuating increases and decreases in virus levels. Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis confirmed these results and showed virus signals inside midgut epithelial cell nuclei. Combining the pesticide and heat treatments with virus acquisition had significant effects on fecundity. Altogether, our results demonstrate for the first time that a single-stranded DNA plant virus can replicate in its hemipteran vector.
IMPORTANCE Plant viruses in agricultural crops are of great concern worldwide. Many of them are transmitted from infected to healthy plants by insects. Persistently transmitted viruses often have a complex association with their vectors; however, most are believed not to replicate within these vectors. Such replication is important, as it contributes to the virus's spread and can impact vector biology. Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) is a devastating begomovirus that infects tomatoes. It is persistently transmitted by the whitefly Bemisia tabaci but is believed not to replicate in the insect. To demonstrate that TYLCV is, in fact, propagative (i.e., it replicates in its insect host), we hypothesized that insect defenses play a role in suppressing virus replication. We thus exposed whitefly to pesticide and heat stress conditions to manipulate its physiology, and we showed that under such conditions, the virus is able to replicate and significantly influence the insect's fecundity.
PMCID: PMC4577905  PMID: 26178995
2.  Vitellogenin from the Silkworm, Bombyx mori: An Effective Anti-Bacterial Agent 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73005.
Silkworm, Bombyx mori, vitellogenin (Vg) was isolated from perivisceral fat body of day 3 of pupa. Both Vg subunits were co-purified as verified by mass spectrometry and immunoblot. Purified Vg responded to specific tests for major posttranslational modifications on native gels indicating its nature as lipo-glyco-phosphoprotein. The Vg fraction had strong antibacterial activity against Gram negative bacterium Escherichia coli and Gram positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Microscopic images showed binding of Vg to bacterial cells and their destruction. When infected silkworm larvae were treated with purified Vg they survived the full life cycle in contrast to untreated animals. This result showed that Vg has the ability to inhibit the proliferation of bacteria in the silkworm fluid system without disturbing the regular metabolism of the host.
PMCID: PMC3772815  PMID: 24058454
3.  A proteomic view on the developmental transfer of homologous 30 kDa lipoproteins from peripheral fat body to perivisceral fat body via hemolymph in silkworm, Bombyx mori 
BMC Biochemistry  2012;13:5.
A group of abundant proteins of ~30 kDa is synthesized in silkworm larval peripheral fat body (PPFB) tissues and transported into the open circulatory system (hemolymph) in a time-depended fashion to be eventually stored as granules in the pupal perivisceral fat body (PVFB) tissues for adult development during the non-feeding stage. These proteins have been shown to act anti-apoptotic besides being assigned roles in embryogenesis and defense. However, detailed protein structural information for individual PPFB and PVFB tissues during larval and pupal developmental stages is still missing. Gel electrophoresis and chromatography were used to separate the 30 kDa proteins from both PPFB and PVFB as well as hemolymph total proteomes. Mass spectrometry (MS) was employed to elucidate individual protein sequences. Furthermore, 30 kDa proteins were purified and biochemically characterized.
One- and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (1/2D-PAGE) was used to visualize the relative changes of abundance of the 30 kDa proteins in PPFB and PVFB as well as hemolymph from day 1 of V instar larval stage to day 6 of pupal stage. Their concentrations were markedly increased in hemolymph and PVFB up to the first two days of pupal development and these proteins were consumed during development of the adult insect. Typically, three protein bands were observed (~29, 30, 31 kDa) in 1D-PAGE, which were subjected to MS-based protein identification along with spots excised from 2D-gels run for those proteomes. Gas phase fragmentation was used to generate peptide sequence information, which was matched to the available nucleotide data pool of more than ten highly homologous insect 30 kDa lipoproteins. Phylogenetic and similarity analyses of those sequences were performed to assist in the assignment of experimentally identified peptides to known sequences. Lipoproteins LP1 to LP5 and L301/302 could be matched to peptides extracted from all bands suggesting the presence of full length and truncated or modified protein forms in all of them. The individual variants could not be easily separated by classical means of purification such as 2D-PAGE because of their high similarity. They even seemed to aggregate as was indicated by native gel electrophoresis. Multistep chromatographic procedures eventually allowed purification of an LP3-like protein. The protein responded to lipoprotein-specific staining.
In B. mori larvae and pupae, 30 kDa lipoproteins LP1 to LP5 and L301/302 were detected in PPFB and PVFB tissue as well as in hemolymph. The concentration of these proteins changed progressively during development from their synthesis in PPFB, transport in hemolymph to storage in PVFB. While the 30 kDa proteins could be reproducibly separated in three bands electrophoretically, the exact nature of the individual protein forms present in those bands remained partially ambiguous. The amino acid sequences of all known 30 kDa proteins showed very high homology. High-resolution separation techniques will be necessary before MS and other structural analysis can shed more light on the complexity of the 30 kDa subproteome in B. mori. A first attempt to that end allowed isolation of a B. mori LP3-like protein, the complete structure, properties and function of which will now be elucidated in detail.
PMCID: PMC3306753  PMID: 22369700

Results 1-3 (3)