Although shrimp white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is a large double-stranded DNA virus (~300 kbp), it expresses many polycistronic mRNAs that are likely to use internal ribosome entry site (IRES) elements for translation. A polycistronic mRNA encodes the gene of the highly expressed nonstructural protein ICP35, and here we use a dual-luciferase assay to demonstrate that this protein is translated cap independently by an IRES element located in the 5= untranslated region of icp35. A deletion analysis of this region showed that IRES activity was due to stem-loops VII and VIII. A promoterless assay, a reverse transcription-PCR together with quantitative real-time PCR analysis, and a stable stem-loop insertion upstream of the Renilla luciferase open reading frame were used, respectively, to rule out the possibility that cryptic promoter activity, abnormal splicing, or read-through was contributing to the IRES activity. In addition, a Northern blot analysis was used to confirm that only a single bicistronic mRNA was expressed. The importance of ICP35 to viral replication was demonstrated in a double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) interference knockdown experiment in which the mortality of the icp35 dsRNA group was significantly reduced. Tunicamycin was used to show that the α subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 is required for icp35 IRES activity. We also found that the intercalating drug quinacrine significantly inhibited icp35 IRES activity in vitro and reduced the mortality rate and viral copy number in WSSV-challenged shrimp. Lastly, in Sf9 insect cells, we found that knockdown of the gene for the Spodoptera frugiperda 40S ribosomal protein RPS10 decreased icp35 IRES-regulated firefly luciferase activity but had no effect on cap-dependent translation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science