The molecular mechanism by which polydnaviruses of endoparasitoid wasps disrupt cell-mediated encapsulation reactions of host insects is largely unknown. Here we show that a polydnavirus-encoded protein, produced from baculovirus and plasmid expression vectors, prevents cell surface exposure of lectin-binding sites and microparticle formation during immune stimulation of haemocytes. The inactivation of immune-related cellular processes by this protein was analysed using a specific lectin and annexin V and shown to be virtually identical to polydnavirus-mediated effects on haemocytes. Cytochalasin D application has similar effects on haemocytes, suggesting that the immune suppression by the polydnavirus protein is caused by the destabilization of actin filaments. Since the exposure of cell surface glycoproteins and the formation of microparticles are part of an immune response to foreign objects or microorganisms and a prerequisite for cell-mediated encapsulation of microorganisms and parasites, the virus-encoded protein may become an important tool for the inactivation of cellular immune reactions in insects and an essential component in understanding immune suppression in parasitized host insects.


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