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1.  Characterization of Four Novel Caspases from Litopenaeus vannamei (Lvcaspase2-5) and Their Role in WSSV Infection through dsRNA-Mediated Gene Silencing 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e80418.
Apoptosis plays an important role in white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) pathogenesis, and caspases are central players in apoptosis. Here, we cloned four novel caspases (Lvcaspase2-5) from the Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei, and investigated their potential roles in WSSV replication using dsRNA-mediated gene silencing. Lvcaspase2-5 have the typical domain structure of caspase family proteins, with the conserved consensus motifs p20 and p10. Lvcaspase2 and Lvcaspase5 were highly expressed in muscle, while Lvcaspase3 was highly expressed in hemocytes and Lvcaspase4 was mainly expressed in intestine. Lvcaspase2-5 could also be upregulated by WSSV infection, and they showed different patterns in various tissues. When overexpressed in Drosophila S2 cells, Lvcaspase2-5 showed different cellular localizations. Using dsRNA-medicated gene silencing, the expression of Lvcaspase2, Lvcaspase3, and Lvcaspase5 were effectively knocked down. In Lvcaspase2-, Lvcaspase3- or Lvcaspase5-silenced L. vannamei, expression of WSSV VP28 gene was significantly enhanced, suggesting protective roles for Lvcaspase2, Lvcaspase3 and Lvcaspase5 in the host defense against WSSV infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080418
PMCID: PMC3871164  PMID: 24376496
2.  The shrimp IKK–NF-κB signaling pathway regulates antimicrobial peptide expression and may be subverted by white spot syndrome virus to facilitate viral gene expression 
Cellular and Molecular Immunology  2013;10(5):423-436.
The IκB kinases IKKα and IKKβ and the IKK-related kinases TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) and IKKε are the master regulators of the NF-κB signaling pathway. Although this pathway has been extensively studied in mammals, less attention has been paid in crustaceans, which have significant economic value. Here, we report the cloning and functional studies of two IKK homologs, LvIKKβ and LvIKKε, from Pacific white shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei. LvIKKβ and LvIKKε mRNAs are widely expressed in different tissues and are responsive to white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infection. When overexpressed in Drosophila S2 cells, LvIKKβ but not LvIKKε activates the promoters of NF-κB pathway-controlled antimicrobial peptide genes (AMPs), such as the Penaeidins (PENs). In HEK 293T cells, both LvIKKβ and LvIKKε activate an NF-κB reporter. The silencing of LvIKKβ or LvIKKε using double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-mediated RNA interference (RNAi) decreases the expression of L. vannamei AMPs, including PENs, lysozyme and crustins. Intriguingly, LvIKKβ- or LvIKKε-silenced L. vannamei are resistant to WSSV infection. We hypothesized that successful infection with WSSV requires the activation of the IKK–NF-κB signaling pathway to modulate viral gene expression. We constructed luciferase reporters for 147 WSSV genes. By screening, we found that the WSV051, WSV059, WSV069, WSV083, WSV090, WSV107, WSV244, WSV303, WSV371 and WSV445 promoters can be activated by LvIKKβ or LvIKKε in Drosophila S2 cells. Taken together, our results reveal that LvIKKβ and LvIKKε may participate in the regulation of shrimp AMPs and that WSSV may subvert the L. vannamei IKK–NF-κB signaling pathway to facilitate viral gene expression.
doi:10.1038/cmi.2013.30
PMCID: PMC3759962  PMID: 23954949
antimicrobial peptide; IKK–NF-κB; innate immunity; Litopenaeus vannamei; WSSV
3.  Analysis of Expression, Cellular Localization, and Function of Three Inhibitors of Apoptosis (IAPs) from Litopenaeus vannamei during WSSV Infection and in Regulation of Antimicrobial Peptide Genes (AMPs) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72592.
Inhibitors of apoptosis (IAPs) play important roles in apoptosis and NF-κB activation. In this study, we cloned and characterized three IAPs (LvIAP1-3) from the Pacific white shrimp, Litopenaeusvannamei. LvIAP1-3 proteins shared signature domains and exhibited significant similarities with other IAP family proteins. The tissue distributions of LvIAP1-3 were studied. The expression of LvIAP1-3 was induced in the muscle after white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infection. LvIAP1 expression in the gill, hemocytes, hepatopancreas, and intestine was responsive to WSSV and Vibrioalginolyticus infections. LvIAP2 expression in the gill, hemocytes, and hepatopancreas was also responsive to WSSV infection. The expression of LvIAP3 in the gill, hemocytes, and intestine was reduced after V. alginolyticus infection. When overexpressed in Drosophila S2 cells, GFP labeled-LvIAP2 was distributed in the cytoplasm and appeared as speck-like aggregates in the nucleus. Both LvIAP1 and LvIAP3 were widely distributed throughout the cytoplasm and nucleus. The expression of LvIAP1, LvIAP2, and LvIAP3 was significantly knocked down by dsRNA-mediated gene silencing. In the gill of LvIAP1- or LvIAP3-silenced shrimp, the expression of WSSV VP28 was significantly higher than that of the dsGFP control group, suggesting that LvIAP1 and LvIAP3 may play protective roles in host defense against WSSV infection. Intriguingly, the LvIAP2-silenced shrimp all died within 48 hours after dsLvIAP2 injection. In the hemocytes of LvIAP2-silenced shrimps, the expression of antimicrobial peptide genes (AMPs), including Penaeidins, lysozyme, crustins, Vibriopenaeicidae-induced cysteine and proline-rich peptides (VICPs), was significantly downregulated, while the expression of anti-lipopolysaccharide factors (ALFs) was upregulated. Moreover, LvIAP2 activated the promoters of the NF-κB pathway-controlled AMPs, such as shrimp Penaeidins and Drosophila drosomycin and attacin A, in Drosophila S2 cells. Taken together, these results reveal that LvIAP1 and LvIAP3 might participate in the host defense against WSSV infection, and LvIAP2 might be involved in the regulation of shrimp AMPs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072592
PMCID: PMC3743791  PMID: 23967321
4.  Litopenaeus vannamei Sterile-Alpha and Armadillo Motif Containing Protein (LvSARM) Is Involved in Regulation of Penaeidins and antilipopolysaccharide factors 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e52088.
The Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated NF-κB pathway is tightly controlled because overactivation may result in severe damage to the host, such as in the case of chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer. In mammals, sterile-alpha and armadillo motif-containing protein (SARM) plays an important role in negatively regulating this pathway. While Caenorhabditis elegans SARM is crucial for an efficient immune response against bacterial and fungal infections, it is still unknown whether Drosophila SARM participates in immune responses. Here, Litopenaeus vannamei SARM (LvSARM) was cloned and functionally characterized. LvSARM shared signature domains with and exhibited significant similarities to mammalian SARM. Real-time quantitative PCR analysis indicated that the expression of LvSARM was responsive to Vibrio alginolyticus and white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infections in the hemocyte, gill, hepatopancreas and intestine. In Drosophila S2 cells, LvSARM was widely distributed in the cytoplasm and could significantly inhibit the promoters of the NF-κB pathway-controlled antimicrobial peptide genes (AMPs). Silencing of LvSARM using dsRNA-mediated RNA interference increased the expression levels of Penaeidins and antilipopolysaccharide factors, which are L.vannamei AMPs, and increased the mortality rate after V. alginolyticus infection. Taken together, our results reveal that LvSARM may be a novel component of the shrimp Toll pathway that negatively regulates shrimp AMPs, particularly Penaeidins and antilipopolysaccharide factors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052088
PMCID: PMC3566147  PMID: 23405063
5.  Identification and Function of Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 (MyD88) in Litopenaeus vannamei 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47038.
Myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88) is a universal and essential signaling protein in Toll-like receptor/interleukin-1 receptor-induced activation of nuclear factor-kappa B. In this study, two MyD88 protein variants (LvMyD88 and LvMyD88-1) were identified in Litopenaeus vannamei. The LvMyD88 cDNA is 1,848 bp in length and contains an open reading frame (ORF) of 1,428 bp, whereas the LvMyD88-1 cDNA is 1,719 bp in length and has an ORF of 1,299 bp. Both variants encode proteins with death and Toll/interleukin-1 receptor domains and share 91% sequence identity. In healthy L. vannamei, the LvMyD88 genes were highly expressed in hemocytes but at a low level in the hepatopancreas. The LvMyD88s expression was induced in hemocytes after challenge with lipopolysaccharide, CpG-ODN2006, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Staphyloccocus aureus, and white spot syndrome virus, but not by poly I∶C. Overexpression of LvMyD88 and LvMyD88-1 in Drosophila Schneider 2 cells led to activation of antimicrobial peptide genes and wsv069 (ie1), wsv303, and wsv371. These results suggested that LvMyD88 may play a role in antibacterial and antiviral response in L. vannamei. To our knowledge, this is the first report on MyD88 in shrimp and a variant of MyD88 gene in invertebrates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047038
PMCID: PMC3470552  PMID: 23071706
6.  The Shrimp NF-κB Pathway Is Activated by White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) 449 to Facilitate the Expression of WSSV069 (ie1), WSSV303 and WSSV371 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24773.
The Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated NF-κB pathway is essential for defending against viruses in insects and mammals. Viruses also develop strategies to utilize this pathway to benefit their infection and replication in mammal hosts. In invertebrates, the TLR-mediated NF-κB pathway has only been well-studied in insects and has been demonstrated to be important in antiviral responses. However, there are few reports of interactions between viruses and the TLR-mediated NF-κB pathway in invertebrate hosts. Here, we studied Litopenaeus vannamei Pelle, which is the central regulator of the Toll pathway, and proposed that a similar TLR/MyD88/Tube/Pelle/TRAF6/NF-κB cascade may exist in shrimp for immune gene regulation. After performing genome-wild analysis of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) encoded proteins, we found that WSSV449 shows 15.7-19.4% identity to Tube, which is an important component of the insect Toll pathway. We further found that WSSV449 activated promoters of Toll pathway-controlled antimicrobial peptide genes, indicating WSSV449 has a similar function to host Tube in activating the NF-κB pathway. We suspected that WSSV449 activated the Toll-mediated NF-κB pathway for regulating viral gene expression. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed the promoters of viral genes and found 40 promoters that possess NF-κB binding sites. A promoter screen showed that the promoter activities of WSSV069 (ie1), WSSV303 and WSSV371 can be highly induced by the shrimp NF-κB family protein LvDorsal. WSSV449 also induced these three viral promoter activities by activating the NF-κB pathway. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a virus that encodes a protein similar to the Toll pathway component Tube to upregulate gene expression in the invertebrate host.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024773
PMCID: PMC3171479  PMID: 21931849
7.  The shrimp IKK–NF-κB signaling pathway regulates antimicrobial peptide expression and may be subverted by white spot syndrome virus to facilitate viral gene expression 
Cellular & Molecular Immunology  2013;10(5):423-436.
The IκB kinases IKKα and IKKβ and the IKK-related kinases TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) and IKKε are the master regulators of the NF-κB signaling pathway. Although this pathway has been extensively studied in mammals, less attention has been paid in crustaceans, which have significant economic value. Here, we report the cloning and functional studies of two IKK homologs, LvIKKβ and LvIKKε, from Pacific white shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei. LvIKKβ and LvIKKε mRNAs are widely expressed in different tissues and are responsive to white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infection. When overexpressed in Drosophila S2 cells, LvIKKβ but not LvIKKε activates the promoters of NF-κB pathway-controlled antimicrobial peptide genes (AMPs), such as the Penaeidins (PENs). In HEK 293T cells, both LvIKKβ and LvIKKε activate an NF-κB reporter. The silencing of LvIKKβ or LvIKKε using double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-mediated RNA interference (RNAi) decreases the expression of L. vannamei AMPs, including PENs, lysozyme and crustins. Intriguingly, LvIKKβ- or LvIKKε-silenced L. vannamei are resistant to WSSV infection. We hypothesized that successful infection with WSSV requires the activation of the IKK–NF-κB signaling pathway to modulate viral gene expression. We constructed luciferase reporters for 147 WSSV genes. By screening, we found that the WSV051, WSV059, WSV069, WSV083, WSV090, WSV107, WSV244, WSV303, WSV371 and WSV445 promoters can be activated by LvIKKβ or LvIKKε in Drosophila S2 cells. Taken together, our results reveal that LvIKKβ and LvIKKε may participate in the regulation of shrimp AMPs and that WSSV may subvert the L. vannamei IKK–NF-κB signaling pathway to facilitate viral gene expression.
doi:10.1038/cmi.2013.30
PMCID: PMC3759962  PMID: 23954949
antimicrobial peptide; IKK–NF-κB; innate immunity; Litopenaeus vannamei; WSSV

Results 1-7 (7)