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Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2013 Jul 12;3:25. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2013.00025. eCollection 2013.

Endogenous tick viruses and modulation of tick-borne pathogen growth.

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The Pirbright Institute Surrey, UK.


Ticks transmit a wide range of viral, bacterial and protozoan pathogens, many of which can establish persistent infections of lifelong duration in the vector tick and in some cases are transmitted transovarially to the next generation. In addition many ixodid and argasid tick cell lines and, by inference the parent ticks from which they were derived, harbor endogenous viruses (ETV) of which almost nothing is known. In general, low level persistent infections with viral pathogens (arboviruses) are not known to have a deleterious effect on tick survival and fitness, suggesting that they can strike a balance with the tick innate immune response. This tolerance of arbovirus infection may be modulated by the permanent presence of ETV in the host cell. In mosquito cells, temporary or permanent silencing of the genes of an endogenous virus by RNA interference can result in changes in replication rate of a co-infecting arbovirus. We propose that tick cell lines offer a useful model system for in vitro investigation of the modulatory effect of ETV on superinfecting pathogen survival and replication in ticks, using the molecular manipulation techniques applied to insect cells.


St Croix River virus; co-infection; dsRNA virus; endogenous virus; mosquito; pathogen; tick; tick cell line

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