Cell lines, Md108 and Md66, from the hemocytes of Malacosoma disstria (Lepidoptera) display aspects of plasma-free innate non-self activities

Jason F. Lapointe, Gary B. Dunphy, Paschalis Giannoulis, Craig A. Mandato, James B. Nardi, Osama H. Gharib, Donald F. Niven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The innate non-self response systems of the deciduous tree pest, the forest tent caterpillar, Malacosoma disstria has been documented by us in terms of in vitro and in vivo reactions towards the Gram-positive nonpathogenic bacterium, Bacillus subtilis and Gram-negative pathogenic microbe, Xenorhabdus nematophila and their respective surface antigens, lipopoteichoic acids (LTA) and lipopolysaccharides (LPS). These studies, often conducted in whole and diluted hemolymph, preclude examination of plasma-free cellular (hemocyte) responses. Plasma-free hemocytes as primary cultures are difficult to obtain. The floating cell line Md66 and attached cell line Md108 from M. disstria hemocytes were examined as a model for plasma-free M. disstria hemocyte non-self responses. Herein, it was established that although both lines differed from each other and from the primary hemocyte cultures of M. disstria in growth parameters, cell composition and sizes both cell lines displayed granular cell-like (GL) cells and plasmatocyte-like (PL) cells according to morphological criteria and to some extent antigenic similarities based on labeling with anti-Chrysodeixis includens hemocyte monoclonal antibodies. Hemocyte-specific neuroglian-like protein was detected on cells of both cell lines and in the primary hemocyte cultures albeit with staining patterns differing according to culture and cell types, confluency levels and cell-cell adhesion. Both cell lines bound B. subtilis and X. nematophila, the reaction extent varying with the cell line and its cell types. LPS damaged both cell types in the two cell lines whereas LTA enhanced the adhesion of Md66 GL cells to flask surfaces followed by PL cell adhesion. PL cells of both lines, like the primary cultures, phagocytosed FITC-labeled B. subtilis; only Md108 GL cells phagocytosed B. subtilis. In either case phagocytosis was always less in frequency and intensity than the primary cultures. Proteins released from the cell lines differed in pattern and magnitude but contained bacterial binding proteins that enhanced differential bacterial adhesion to both cell types in both cell lines: the GL cells both cultures, and those of granular cells in primary cultures, were more involved than the primary plasmatocytes and PL cells. Only Md66 cells possessed lysozyme and both cell types of both lines contained phenoloxidase. Neither enzyme type was released during early phase reaction with the bacteria. LPS inhibited phenoloxidase activity. The similarities and differences between the lines and primary cultures make Md66 and Md108 useful for the systematic examination of plasma-free cellular non-self reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-193
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Bacillus
  • Hemocytes
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Lipoteichoic acids
  • Malacosoma
  • Xenorhabdus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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