Durham University

Department of Biosciences

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor John A. Gatehouse

Fang, Q, Wang, F, Gatehouse, J.A., Gatehouse, A.M.R., Chen, X-X, Hu, C & Ye, G-Y (2011). Venom of Parasitoid, Pteromalus puparum, Suppresses Host, Pieris rapae, Immune Promotion by Decreasing Host C-Type Lectin Gene Expression. PLoS ONE 6(10): e26888.

Author(s) from Durham


Insect hosts have evolved immunity against invasion by parasitoids, and in co-evolutionary response parasitoids have also developed strategies to overcome host immune systems. The mechanisms through which parasitoid venoms disrupt the promotion of host immunity are still unclear. We report here a new mechanism evolved by parasitoid Pteromalus puparum, whose venom inhibited the promotion of immunity in its host Pieris rapae (cabbage white butterfly).

Methodology/Principal Findings
A full-length cDNA encoding a C-type lectin (Pr-CTL) was isolated from P. rapae. Quantitative PCR and immunoblotting showed that injection of bacterial and inert beads induced expression of Pr-CTL, with peaks of mRNA and Pr-CTL protein levels at 4 and 8 h post beads challenge, respectively. In contrast, parasitoid venom suppressed Pr-CTL expression when co-injected with beads, in a time and dose-dependent manner. Immunolocalization and immunoblotting results showed that Pr-CTL was first detectable in vesicles present in cytoplasm of granulocytes in host hemolymph, and was then secreted from cells into circulatory fluid. Finally, the secreted Pr-CTL bound to cellular membranes of both granulocytes and plasmatocytes. Injection of double-stranded RNA specific for target gene decreased expression of Pr-CTL, and a few other host immune-related genes. Suppression of Pr-CTL expression also down-regulated antimicrobial and phenoloxidase activities, and reducing phagocytotic and encapsulation rates in host. The inhibitory effect of parasitoid venom on host encapsulation is consistent with its effect in suppressing Pr-CTL expression. Binding assay results showed that recombinant Pr-CTL directly attached to the surface of P. puparum egges. We infer that Pr-CTL may serve as an immune signalling co-effector, first binding to parasitoid eggs, regulating expression of a set of immune-related genes and promoting host immunity.

P. puparum venom inhibits promotion of host immune responses by silencing expression of host C-type lectin gene Pr-CTL, whose expression affected transcription of other host immune-related genes.