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Parasit Vectors. 2019 Apr 11;12(1):165. doi: 10.1186/s13071-019-3433-8.

Mosquito antiviral defense mechanisms: a delicate balance between innate immunity and persistent viral infection.

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Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Southport, QLD, 4215, Australia.
Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Southport, QLD, 4215, Australia.
Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Southport, QLD, 4215, Australia.


Mosquito-borne diseases are associated with major global health burdens. Aedes spp. and Culex spp. are primarily responsible for the transmission of the most medically important mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue virus, West Nile virus and Zika virus. Despite the burden of these pathogens on human populations, the interactions between viruses and their mosquito hosts remain enigmatic. Viruses enter the midgut of a mosquito following the mosquito's ingestion of a viremic blood meal. During infection, virus recognition by the mosquito host triggers their antiviral defense mechanism. Of these host defenses, activation of the RNAi pathway is the main antiviral mechanism, leading to the degradation of viral RNA, thereby inhibiting viral replication and promoting viral clearance. However, whilst antiviral host defense mechanisms limit viral replication, the mosquito immune system is unable to effectively clear the virus. As such, these viruses can establish persistent infection with little or no fitness cost to the mosquito vector, ensuring life-long transmission to humans. Understanding of the mosquito innate immune response enables the discovery of novel antivectorial strategies to block human transmission. This review provides an updated and concise summary of recent studies on mosquito antiviral immune responses, which is a key determinant for successful virus transmission. In addition, we will also discuss the factors that may contribute to persistent infection in mosquito hosts. Finally, we will discuss current mosquito transmission-blocking strategies that utilize genetically modified mosquitoes and Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes for resistance to pathogens.


Antiviral defense; Mosquito; Persistent infection; RNAi pathway; Transmission-blocking strategies

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