Transgene-mediated suppression of the RNA interference pathway in Aedes aegypti interferes with gene silencing and enhances Sindbis virus and dengue virus type 2 replication

Authors

  • C. C. H. Khoo,

    1. Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
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  • J. B. Doty,

    1. Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
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  • M. S. Heersink,

    1. Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
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  • K. E. Olson,

    1. Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
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  • A. W. E. Franz

    Corresponding author
    • Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
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Correspondence: Alexander W. E. Franz, Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA. Tel.: +1 970 491 8611; fax: +1 970 491 8323; e-mail: afranz@colostate.edu

Abstract

RNA interference (RNAi) is the major innate antiviral pathway in Aedes aegypti that responds to replicating arboviruses such as dengue virus (DENV) and Sindbis virus (SINV). On the one hand, the mosquito's RNAi machinery is capable of completely eliminating DENV2 from Ae. aegypti. On the other, transient silencing of key genes of the RNAi pathway increases replication of SINV and DENV2, allowing the viruses to temporally overcome dose-dependent midgut infection and midgut escape barriers (MEB) more efficiently. Here we expressed Flock house virus B2 (FHV-B2) from the poly-ubiquitin (PUb) promoter in Ae. aegypti using the ΦC31 site-directed recombination system to investigate the impact of transgene-mediated RNAi pathway suppression on infections with SINV-TR339eGFP and DENV2-QR94, the latter of which has been shown to be confronted with a strong MEB in Ae. aegypti. FHV-B2 was constitutively expressed in midguts of sugar- and blood-fed mosquitoes of transgenic line PUbB2 P61. B2 over-expression suppressed RNA silencing of carboxypeptidase A-1 (AeCPA-1) in midgut tissue of PUbB2 P61 mosquitoes. Following oral challenge with SINV-TR339eGFP or DENV2-QR94, mean titres in midguts of PUbB2 P61 females were significantly higher at 7 days post-bloodmeal (pbm) than in those of nontransgenic control mosquitoes. At 14 days pbm, infection rates of carcasses were significantly increased in PubB2 P61 mosquitoes infected with SINV-TR339eGFP. Following infection with DENV2-QR94, midgut infection rates were significantly increased in the B2-expressing mosquitoes at 14 days pbm. However, B2 expression in PUbB2 P61 did not increase the DENV2-QR94 dissemination rate, indicating that the infection phenotype was not primarily controlled by RNAi.

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