The Wolbachia WO bacteriophage proteome in the Aedes albopictus C/wStr1 cell line: evidence for lytic activity?

Gerald D Baldridge, Todd W. Markowski, Bruce A Witthuhn, LeeAnn Higgins, Abigail S. Baldridge, Ann M Fallon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Wolbachia pipientis (Rickettsiales), an obligate intracellular alphaproteobacterium in insects, manipulates host reproduction to maximize invasion of uninfected insect populations. Modification of host population structure has potential applications for control of pest species, particularly if Wolbachia can be maintained, manipulated, and genetically engineered in vitro. Although Wolbachia maintains an obligate mutualism with genome stability in nematodes, arthropods can be co-infected with distinct Wolbachia strains, and horizontal gene transfer between strains is potentially mediated by WO phages encoded within Wolbachia genomes. Proteomic analysis of a robust, persistent infection of a mosquito cell line with wStr from the planthopper, Laodelphax striatellus, revealed expression of a full array of WO phage genes, as well as nine of ten non-phage genes that occur between two distinct clusters of WOMelB genes in the genome of wMel, which infects Drosophila melanogaster. These non-phage genes encode potential host-adaptive proteins and are expressed in wStr at higher levels than phage structural proteins. A subset of seven of the non-phage genes is flanked by highly conserved non-coding sequences, including a putative promoter element, that are not present in a syntenically arranged array of homologs in plasmids from three tick-associated Rickettsia spp. These studies expand our understanding of wStr in a host cell line derived from the mosquito, Aedes albopictus, and provide a basis for investigating conditions that favor the lytic phase of the WO phage life cycle and recovery of infectious phage particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalIn Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Animal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by R01 AI 081322 from the National Institutes of Health and by the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, St. Paul, MN.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, The Author(s).


  • Mosquito cell line
  • Proteome
  • Rickettsial plasmids
  • WO phage


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