Persistent Spodoptera frugiperda rhabdovirus infection in Sf9 cells is not restricted by Wolbachia wMelPop-CLA and wAlbB strains and is targeted by the RNAi machinery

R. Parry, H. de Malmanche and S. Asgari,  Virology,  563:82-87. 2021.

The endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia pipientis confers RNA virus refractoriness in Drosophila and Aedes mosquitoes. Questions remain about the Wolbachia-virus restriction phenotype and how extensive this phenomenon may be within other arthropods. Here, we generated two Spodoptera frugiperda cell lines stably transinfected with two strains of Wolbachia, wAlbB and wMelPop-CLA. Despite the high density of Wolbachia in stably infected Sf9 cells, RT-PCR indicated the presence of the negative-sense RNA virus Spodoptera frugiperda rhabdovirus (SfRV) in Wolbachia-infected and uninfected cell lines. No differences in the replication of SfRV between Sf9 and Wolbachia-infected cells was found. RNA-Seq analysis of the parental Sf9 cells supported SfRV’s presence in these cells with abundant 20 nt virus-derived small RNAs indicating active replication of SfRV in these cells. Overall, this study supports a growing body of evidence that Wolbachia does not restrict negative-sense RNA viruses and generates an in vitro model to examine Lepidoptera-Wolbachia virus interactions.

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