We previously identified a novel insect picorna-like virus, termed Kakugo virus (KV), obtained from the brains of aggressive honeybee worker bees that had counterattacked giant hornets. Here we examined the tissue distribution of KV and alterations of gene expression profiles in the brains of KV-infected worker bees to analyze possible effects of KV infection on honeybee neural and physiological states. By use of in situ hybridization, KV was broadly detected in the brains of the naturally KV-infected worker bees. When inoculated experimentally into bees, KV was detected in restricted parts of the brain at the early infectious stage and was later detected in various brain regions, including the mushroom bodies, optic lobes, and ocellar nerve. KV was detected not only in the brain but also in the hypopharyngeal glands and fat bodies, indicating systemic KV infection. Next, we compared the gene expression profiles in the brains of KV-inoculated and noninoculated bees. The expression of 11 genes examined was not significantly affected in KV-infected worker bees. cDNA microarray analysis, however, identified a novel gene whose expression was induced in the periphery of the brains of KV-infected bees, which was commonly observed in naturally infected and experimentally inoculated bees. The gene encoded a novel hypothetical protein with a leucine zipper motif. A gene encoding a similar protein was found in the parasitic wasp Nasonia genome but not in other insect genomes. These findings suggest that KV infection may affect brain functions and/or physiological states in honeybees.
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