Date of Thesis

2010

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Marie C. Pizzorno

Keywords

deformed wing virus, DWV, honeybee, virus, localization

Abstract

Apis mellifera L., the European honeybee, is a crucial pollinator of many important agricultural crops in the United States. Recently, honeybee colonies have been affected by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a disorder in which the colony fails due to the disappearance of a key functional group of worker bees. Though no direct causalrelationship has been confirmed, hives that experience CCD have been shown to have a high incidence of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), a common honeybee virus. While the genome sequence and gene-order of DWV has been analyzed fairly recently, few other studies have been performed to understand the molecular characterization of the virus.Since little is known about where DWV proteins localize in infected host cells, the objective of this project was to determine the subcellular localization of two of the important non-structural proteins that are encoded in the DWV genome. This project focused on the protein 3C, an autocatalytic protease which cleaves itself from a longer polyprotein and helps to cut all of the other proteins apart from one another so that they can become functional, and 3D, the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) which is critical for replication of the virus because it copies the viral genome. By tagging nested constructs containing these two proteins and tracking where they localized in living cells, this study aimed to better understand the replication of DWV and to elicit possible targetsfor further research on how to control the virus. Since DWV is a picorna-like virus, distantly related to human viruses such as polio, and picornavirus non-structural proteins aggregate at cellular membranes during viral replication, the major hypothesis was that the 3C and 3CD proteins would localize at cellular organelle membranes as well. Using confocal microscopy, both proteins were found to localize in the cytoplasm, but the 3CDprotein was found to be mostly diffuse cytoplasmic, and the 3C protein was found to localize more specifically on membranous structures just outside of the nucleus.

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