Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Parasite wasps have practiced gene therapy for a hundred million years

18.02.2009
Braconid parasite wasps and their caterpillar hosts form a unique host-parasite model: the wasps lay their eggs inside the caterpillars and simultaneously inject some viral particles to get around the host's defenses and control its physiology.

The genes from these viral particles have now been identified in the wasp's own genome by a team at the Institut de recherche sur la biologie de l'insecte (CNRS/Université François-Rabelais Tours), in collaboration with a laboratory at University of Berne and Genoscope d'Evry.

These genes came from a virus captured by a common ancestor of these wasps 100 million years ago. These results, published in Science 13 February 2009, could provide new means of designing transfer vectors for gene therapy.

Wasps of the family Braconidae reproduce by laying their eggs in caterpillars, which then serve as food for the developing wasp larvae (1). However, the body of a caterpillar is a hostile environment, with an efficient defense system that forms a capsule of immune cells around foreign objects. To get around these defenses, when the wasp lays her eggs in the caterpillar, she also injects some special particles made in her ovaries. These particles enter the caterpillar's cells where they induce immunosuppression and control development, allowing the wasp larvae to survive.

Although many examples of symbiotic bacteria are known, the present case of a parasitic species using a virus to control its host's physiology is unique. To improve our understanding of the phenomenon, researchers at the Institut de recherche sur la biologie de l'insecte (CNRS/Université François-Rabelais Tours) are studying these viral particles in detail. In previous work, they had questioned whether the particles were truly viral, as they found that the particle genome lacked the necessary machinery for replication usually found in viruses.

Their most recent findings, published in Science, show that the particles are indeed viral in nature, but that their components lie within the wasp's own genome. More that twenty different genes coding for characteristic components of nudiviruses - insect viruses often used in biological pest control - are expressed in the wasps' ovaries. Furthermore, these genes are conserved in the different kinds of wasp that make these particles.

The results indicate that the ancestor of the braconid wasps integrated the genome of a nudivirus into its own genome. Although these genes continue to produce viral particles, the particles now deliver the wasp's own virulence genes into the parasitized host.

The wasps have therefore "domesticated" a virus to turn it into a vector for transferring their genes. Study of this phenomenon is particularly interesting for the development of new vectors for gene therapy, a therapeutic technique that consists of inserting genes into an individual's cells or tissues to treat an illness. Genes are delivered using a deactivated virus as a vector. The particles from parasite wasps are in fact true "natural" vectors, selected over 100 million years to perform this function and capable of transferring large quantities of genetic material (more than 150 genes). Understanding how they work could therefore be very useful for the design of new therapeutic vectors.

(1) The wasp pierces the caterpillar's skin with a sort of stylet, called an auger. It then lays its eggs inside the body, and the wasp larvae then develop in the caterpillar's blood, on which they feed

Julien Guillaume | alfa
Further information:
http://www.cnrs.fr

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Tag it EASI – a new method for accurate protein analysis
20.06.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries
19.06.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Creating a new composite fuel for new-generation fast reactors

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Game-changing finding pushes 3D-printing to the molecular limit

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Could this material enable autonomous vehicles to come to market sooner?

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>