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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2012;6(7):e1754. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001754. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Wolbachia induces density-dependent inhibition to dengue virus in mosquito cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.


Wolbachia is a maternal transmitted endosymbiotic bacterium that is estimated to infect up to 65% of insect species. The ability of Wolbachia to both induce viral interference and spread into mosquito vector population makes it possible to develop Wolbachia as a biological control agent for dengue control. While Wolbachia induces resistance to dengue virus in the transinfected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a similar effect was not observed in Aedes albopictus, which naturally carries Wolbachia infection but still serves as a dengue vector. In order to understand the mechanism of this lack of Wolbachia-mediated viral interference, we used both Ae. albopictus cell line (Aa23) and mosquitoes to characterize the impact of Wolbachia on dengue infection. A serial of sub-lethal doses of antibiotic treatment was used to partially remove Wolbachia in Aa23 cells and generate cell cultures with Wolbachia at different densities. We show that there is a strong negative linear correlation between the genome copy of Wolbachia and dengue virus with a dengue infection completely removed when Wolbacha density reaches a certain level. We then compared Wolbachia density between transinfected Ae. aegypti and naturally infected Ae. albopictus. The results show that Wolbachia density in midgut, fatbody and salivary gland of Ae. albopictus is 80-, 18-, and 24-fold less than that of Ae. aegypti, respectively. We provide evidence that Wolbachia density in somatic tissues of Ae. albopictus is too low to induce resistance to dengue virus. Our results will aid in understanding the mechanism of Wolbachia-mediated pathogen interference and developing novel methods to block disease transmission by mosquitoes carrying native Wolbachia infections.

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