, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 102-110

In vitro analysis of venom from the wasp Nasonia vitripennis: Susceptibility of different cell lines and venom-induced changes in plasma membrane permeability

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The lethal effects of crude venom prepared from the ectoparasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis were examined with cultured cells from six insect and two vertebrate species. Venom caused cells from Sarcophaga peregrina (NIH SaPe4), Drosophila melanogaster (CRL 1963), Trichoplusia ni (TN-368 and BTI-TN-5B1-4), Spodoptera frugiperda (SF-21AE), and Lymantria dispar (IPL-Ldfbc1) to round up, swell, and eventually die. Despite similar sensitivities and overlapping LC50 values [0.0004–0.0015 venom reservoir equivalents (VRE)/µl], profound differences were noted at the onset of cytotoxicity among the six insect cell lines: over 80% of the NIH SaPe4 and SF21AE cells were nonviable within 1 h after addition of an LC99 dose of venom, whereas the other cells required a 5–10-fold longer incubation period to produce mortality approaching 100%. In contrast, cells from the grass frog, Rana pipiens (ICR-2A), and goldfish, Carassius auratus (CAR), showed little sensitivity to the venom: six venom reservoir equivalents were needed to induce 50% mortality in ICR-2A cells [50% lethal concentration (LC50)=0.067 VRE/µl), and 9 VRE did not yield sufficient mortality in CAR cells for us to calculate an LC50. All susceptible cells showed similar responses when incubated with wasp venom: retraction of cytoplasmic extensions (when present), blebbing of the plasma membrane, swelling of the plasma and nuclear membranes, condensation of nuclear material, and eventual cell death attributed to lysis. The rate of swelling and lysis in NIH SaPe4 and BTI-TN-5B1-4 cells exposed to venom appeared to be dependent on the diffusion potential of extracellular solutes (Na+=choline>sucrose≥raffinose>K+), which is consistent with a colloid-osmotic lysis mechanism of cell death. When T. ni cells were cotreated with venom and the K+ channel blocker 4-aminopyridine, cell swelling and lysis increased with increasing drug concentration. In contrast, cells from S. peregrina were protected from the effects of the venom when treated in a similar manner. Addition of certain divalent cations (Zn+2 and Ca+2) to the extracellular media 1 h postvenom incubation rescued both BTI-TN-5B1-4 and NIH SaPe4 cells, suggesting that protection was gained from closure of open pores rather than prevention of pore formation. Venom from N. vitripennis displayed no hemolytic activity toward sheep erythrocytes, supporting the view that venom intoxication is not by a nondiscriminate mechanism. A possible mode of action of the venom is discussed.