[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of all honey bee castes proceeds through three different life stages all of which encounter microbial infections to a various extent. We have examined the immune strength of honey bees across all developmental stages with emphasis on the temporal expression of cellular and humoral immune responses upon artificial challenge with viable Escherichia coli bacteria. We employed a broad array of methods to investigate defence strategies of infected individuals: (a) fate of bacteria in the haemocoel; (b) nodule formation and (c) induction of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Newly emerged adult worker bees and drones were able to activate efficiently all examined immune reactions. The number of viable bacteria circulating in the haemocoel of infected bees declined rapidly by more than two orders of magnitude within the first 4-6 h post-injection (p.i.), coinciding with the occurrence of melanised nodules. Antimicrobial activity, on the other hand, became detectable only after the initial bacterial clearance. These two temporal patterns of defence reactions very likely represent the constitutive cellular and the induced humoral immune response. A unique feature of honey bees is that a fraction of worker bees survives the winter season in a cluster mostly engaged in thermoregulation. We show here that the overall immune strength of winter bees matches that of young summer bees although nodulation reactions are not initiated at all. As expected, high doses of injected viable E.coli bacteria caused no mortality in larvae or adults of each age. However, drone and worker pupae succumbed to challenge with E.coli even at low doses, accompanied by a premature darkening of the pupal body. In contrast to larvae and adults, we observed no fast clearance of viable bacteria and no induction of AMPs but a rapid proliferation of E.coli bacteria in the haemocoel of bee pupae ultimately leading to their death.
PLoS ONE 06/2013; 8(6):e66415. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have studied the responses of honey bees at different life stages (Apis mellifera) to controlled infection with acute bee paralysis virus and have identified the haemolymph of infected larvae and adult worker bees as the compartment where massive propagation of ABPV occurs. Insects respond with a broad spectrum of induced innate immune reactions to bacterial infections, whereas defence mechanisms based on RNA interference play a major role in antiviral immunity. In this study, we have determined that honey bee larvae and adult workers do not produce a humoral immune reaction upon artificial infection with ABPV, in contrast to control individuals challenged with Escherichia coli. ABPV-infected bees produced neither elevated levels of specific antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), such as hymenoptaecin and defensin, nor any general antimicrobial activity, as revealed by inhibition-zone assays. Additionally, adult bees did not generate melanised nodules upon ABPV infection, an important cellular immune function activated by bacteria and viruses in some insects. Challenge of bees with both ABPV and E. coli showed that innate humoral and cellular immune reactions are induced in mixed infections, albeit at a reduced level.
Archives of Virology 01/2012; 157(4):689-702. · 2.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Honeybee populations are severely threatened by parasites and diseases. Recent outbreaks of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has caused loss of more than 35% of bee colonies in the USA, and this is thought to at least in part be due to parasites and/or disease. Interestingly, the honeybee possesses of a limited set of immune genes compared to other insects. Non-canonical immune genes of honeybee are of interest because they may provide greater insights into the peculiar nature of the immune system of this social insect. Previous analyses of bee haemolymph upon bacterial challenge identified a novel leucine-rich repeat protein termed IRP30. Here we show that IRP30 behaves as a typical secreted immune protein. It is expressed simultaneously with carboxylesterase upon treatment with bacteria or other elicitors of immune response. Furthermore we characterize the gene and the mRNA encoding this protein and the IRP30 protein itself. Its regulation and evolution reveal that IRP30 belongs to a protein family, distributed broadly among Hymenoptera, suggesting its ancient function in immune response. We document an interesting case of a recent IRP30 loss in the ant Atta cephalotes and hypothesize that a putative IRP30 homolog of Nasonia emerged by convergent evolution rather than diverged from a common ancestor.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNA-containing viruses represent a global threat to the health and wellbeing of humans and animals. Hence, the discovery of new approaches for the design of novel vaccines and antiviral compounds attains high attention. Here we describe the potential of artificial ribonucleases (aRNases), low molecular weight compounds capable to cleave phosphodiester bonds in RNA under mild conditions, to act as antiviral compounds via destroying the genome of non-enveloped RNA viruses, and the potential of utilizing honey bee larvae and adult bees (Apis mellifera) as a novel experimental system for the screening of new antiviral compounds. Pre-incubation of an Acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV) suspension with aRNases D3-12, K-D-1 or Dp12F6 in a concentration-dependent manner increased the survival rate of bee larvae and adult bees subsequently infected with these preparations, whereas incubation of the virus with aRNases ABL3C3 or L2-3 had no effect at all. The results of RT-PCR analysis of viral RNA isolated from aRNase-treated virus particles confirmed that virus inactivation occurs via degradation of viral genomic RNA: dose-dependent inactivation of ABPV correlates well with the cleavage of viral RNA. Electron microscopy analysis revealed that the morphology of ABPV particles inactivated by aRNases remains unaffected as compared to control virus preparations. Altogether the obtained results clearly demonstrate the potential of aRNases as a new virus inactivation agents and bee larvae/ABPV as a new in vivo system for the screening of antiviral compounds.
Antiviral research 06/2011; 91(3):267-77. · 3.61 Impact Factor