Investigating Virus–Host Interactions in Cultured Primary Honey Bee Cells

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Honey bee (Apis mellifera) health is impacted by viral infections at the colony, individual bee, and cellular levels. To investigate honey bee antiviral defense mechanisms at the cellular level we further developed the use of cultured primary cells, derived from either larvae or pupae, and demonstrated that these cells could be infected with a panel of viruses, including common honey bee infecting viruses (i.e., sacbrood virus (SBV) and deformed wing virus (DWV)) and an insect model virus, Flock House virus (FHV). Virus abundances were quantified over the course of infection. The production of infectious virions in cultured honey bee pupal cells was demonstrated by determining that naïve cells became infected after the transfer of deformed wing virus or Flock House virus from infected cell cultures. Initial characterization of the honey bee antiviral immune responses at the cellular level indicated that there were virus-specific responses, which included increased expression of bee antiviral protein-1 (GenBank: MF116383) in SBV-infected pupal cells and increased expression of argonaute-2 and dicer-like in FHV-infected hemocytes and pupal cells. Additional studies are required to further elucidate virus-specific honey bee antiviral defense mechanisms. The continued use of cultured primary honey bee cells for studies that involve multiple viruses will address this knowledge gap.



honey bee, apis mellifera, primary cell culture, insect antiviral defense, honey bee viruses, RNA viruses, insect viruses


McMenamin, A.J.; Parekh, F.; Lawrence, V.; Flenniken, M.L. Investigating Virus–Host Interactions in Cultured Primary Honey Bee Cells. Insects 2021, 12, 653.
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