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Virus Res. 2004 Jun 1;102(1):65-74.

RNA interference, arthropod-borne viruses, and mosquitoes.

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Arthropod-Borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


RNA interference (RNAi) probably functions as an antiviral mechanism in most eukaryotic organisms. Variations in the activity of this antiviral pathway in mosquitoes could explain, in part, why some mosquitoes are competent vectors of medically important, arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) and others are not. There are three lines of evidence that show the RNAi pathway exists in Aedes species that transmit arboviruses. The first is that recombinant Sindbis viruses expressing a RNA fragment from a genetically unrelated dengue-2 virus (DENV-2) interfere with DENV-2 replication in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes by a mechanism similar to virus-induced gene silencing described in plants. The second is that transfection of C6/36 (Aedes albopictus) cells with either double-stranded RNA or synthetic small interfering RNAs derived from an arbovirus genome interferes with replication of the homologous virus. The third is that a hairpin DENV-2-specific RNA transcribed from a plasmid can generate virus-resistant C6/36 cells. We hypothesize that genetically modified mosquitoes can be generated that transcribe a flavivirus-specific dsRNA, triggering the RNAi response soon after ingestion of a blood meal. This could induce the RNAi pathway in the midgut prior to establishment of virus infection and profoundly change vector competence. Towards this goal, we are developing transgenic A. aegypti lines that are refractory to DENV by exploiting the RNAi pathway.

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