The baculovirus nuclear polyhedrosis virus interferes with insect larval development by altering the host's hormonal system. The level of haemolymph ecdysteroids, the insect moulting hormone, was found to be higher in virus-infected larvae than in uninfected controls. This was consistently observed in both fourth instars and day 5-infected fifth instars. The rate of hormone synthesis was examined by incubation of the prothoracic gland. Gland activity in virus-infected larvae was higher than controls and continued until the late stages of virus infection, even during the time that controls had ceased to secrete ecdysone after moulting. During virus replication. The prothoracic gland was observed to maintain morphological and ultrastructural characteristics indicative of ecdysone biosynthetic activities. Therefore, it is likely that the insects are no longer under the control of the normal hormonal system after virus infection. It is felt that the alteration of hormone titre and the rate of ecdysone synthesis is the result of the activity of ecdysteroid UDP-glucosyl transferase (EGT), a virus-encoded enzyme which is thought to inactivate ecdysteroids by sugar conjugation.


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