MdBVe46 is an envelope protein that is required for virion formation by Microplitis demolitor bracovirus
Bracoviruses (BVs) are endogenized nudiviruses that braconid parasitoid wasps have coopted for functions in parasitizing hosts. Microplitis demolitor is a braconid wasp that produces Microplitis demolitor bracovirus (MdBV) and parasitizes the larval stage of the moth Chrysodeixis includens. Some BV core genes are homologs of genes also present in baculoviruses while others are only known from nudiviruses or other BVs. In this study, we had two main goals. The first was to separate MdBV virions into envelope and nucleocapsid fractions before proteomic analysis to identify core gene products that were preferentially associated with one fraction or the other. Results indicated that nearly all MdBV baculovirus-like gene products that were detected by our proteomic analysis had similar distributions to homologs in the occlusion-derived form of baculoviruses. Several core gene products unknown from baculoviruses were also identified as envelope or nucleocapsid components. Our second goal was to functionally characterize a core gene unknown from baculoviruses that was originally named HzNVorf64-like. Immunoblotting assays supported our proteomic data that identified HzNVorf64-like as an envelope protein. We thus renamed HzNVorf64-like as MdBVe46, which we further hypothesized was important for infection of C. includens. Knockdown of MdBVe46 by RNA interference (RNAi) greatly reduced transcript and protein abundance. Knockdown of MdBVe46 also altered virion morphogenesis, near-fully inhibited infection of C. includens, and significantly reduced the proportion of hosts that were successfully parasitized by M. demolitor.