The baculovirus Ac108 protein is a per os infectivity factor and a component of the ODV entry complex

Boogaard, Bob; Evers, Felix; Lent, Jan W.M. van; Oers, Monique M. van


Wild-type ODVs (Wt) have an intact ODV entry complex in their envelope and are orally infectious towards insect larvae (left panel). In the absence of Ac108 (mut ac108), the stable core is still present but nevertheless fails to form an entry complex, affecting the ODV oral infectivity (right panel). The components of the core complex are depicted in yellow and the loosely associated components are depicted in red. PIF7 is depicted in green as its affinity with the complex is currently not known.Baculoviruses orally infect insect larvae when they consume viral occlusion bodies (OBs). OBs consist of a crystalline protein matrix in which the infectious virus particles, the occlusion-derived viruses (ODVs), are embedded. The protein matrix dissolves in the alkaline environment of the insect's midgut lumen. The liberated ODVs can then infect midgut endothelial cells through the action of at least nine different ODV-envelope proteins, called per os infectivity factors (PIFs). These PIF proteins mediate ODV oral infectivity, but are not involved in the systemic spread of the infection by budded viruses (BVs). Eight of the known PIFs form a multimeric complex, named the ODV entry complex. In this study, we show for Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus that mutation of the ac108ORF abolishes the ODV oral infectivity, while production and infectivity of the BVs remains unaffected. Furthermore, repair of the ac108 mutant completely recovered oral infectivity. With an HA-tagged repair mutant, we were able to demonstrate by Western analysis that the Ac108 protein is a constituent of the ODV entry complex, where the formation was abolished in the absence of this protein. Based on these results, we conclude that ac108 encodes a per os infectivity factor (PIF9) that is also an essential constituent of the ODV entry complex.