Functional Peroral Infectivity Complex of White Spot Syndrome Virus of Shrimp

Xi Wang, Cheng Chen, Nan Zhang, Qingxiu Chen, Fenghua Zhang, Xijia Liu, Fang Li, Zheng Li Shi, Just M. Vlak, Manli Wang*, Zhihong Hu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is a major cause of disease in shrimp cultures worldwide. The infection process of this large circular double-stranded DNA virus has been well studied, but its entry mechanism remains controversial. The major virion envelope protein VP28 has been implicated in oral and systemic viral infection in shrimp. However, genetic analysis of viral DNA has shown the presence of a few genes related to proteins of per os infectivity factor (PIF) complex in baculoviruses. This complex is essential for the entry of baculoviruses, large terrestrial circular DNA viruses, into the midgut epithelial cells of insect larvae. In this study, we aimed to determine whether a PIF complex exists in WSSV, the components of this complex, whether it functions as an oral infectivity complex in shrimp, and the biochemical properties that contribute to its function in a marine environment. The results revealed a WSSV PIF complex (∼720 kDa) comprising at least eight proteins, four of which were not identified as PIF homologs: WSV134, VP124 (WSV216), WSSV021, and WSV136. WSV134 is suggested to be a PIF4 homolog due to predicted structural similarity and amino acid sequence identity. The WSSV PIF complex is resistant to alkali, proteolysis, and high salt, properties that are important for maintaining infectivity in aquatic environments. Oral infection can be neutralized by PIF-specific antibodies but not by VP28-specific antibodies. These results indicate that the WSSV PIF complex is critical for WSSV entry into shrimp; the complex’s evolutionary significance is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • envelope entry complex
  • evolution
  • invertebrate large dsDNA viruses
  • oral infection
  • WSSV


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