The endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia induces resistance to dengue virus in Aedes aegypti.
ABSTRACT: Genetic strategies that reduce or block pathogen transmission by mosquitoes have been proposed as a means of augmenting current control measures to reduce the growing burden of vector-borne diseases. The endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia has long been promoted as a potential vehicle for introducing disease-resistance genes into mosquitoes, thereby making them refractory to the human pathogens they transmit. Given the large overlap in tissue distribution and intracellular localization between Wolbachia and dengue virus in mosquitoes, we conducted experiments to characterize their interactions. Our results show that Wolbachia inhibits viral replication and dissemination in the main dengue vector, Aedes aegypti. Moreover, the virus transmission potential of Wolbachia-infected Ae. aegypti was significantly diminished when compared to wild-type mosquitoes that did not harbor Wolbachia. At 14 days post-infection, Wolbachia completely blocked dengue transmission in at least 37.5% of Ae. aegypti mosquitoes. We also observed that this Wolbachia-mediated viral interference was associated with an elevated basal immunity and increased longevity in the mosquitoes. These results underscore the potential usefulness of Wolbachia-based control strategies for population replacement.
Project description:BACKGROUND:New approaches to preventing chikungunya virus (CHIKV) are needed because current methods are limited to controlling mosquito populations, and they have not prevented the invasion of this virus into new locales, nor have they been sufficient to control the virus upon arrival. A promising candidate for arbovirus control and prevention relies on the introduction of the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia into Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. This primarily has been proposed as a tool to control dengue virus (DENV) transmission; however, evidence suggests Wolbachia infections confer protection for Ae. aegypti against CHIKV. Although this approach holds much promise for limiting virus transmission, at present our understanding of the ability of CHIKV to infect, disseminate, and be transmitted by wMel-infected Ae. aegypti currently being used at Wolbachia release sites is limited. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Using Ae. aegypti infected with the wMel strain of Wolbachia that are being released in Medellin, Colombia, we report that these mosquitoes have reduced vector competence for CHIKV, even with extremely high viral titers in the bloodmeal. In addition, we examined the dynamics of CHIKV infection over the course of four to seven days post feeding. Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes remained non-infective over the duration of seven days, i.e., no infectious virus was detected in the saliva when exposed to bloodmeals of moderate viremia, but CHIKV-exposed, wild type mosquitoes did have viral loads in the saliva consistent with what has been reported elsewhere. Finally, the presence of wMel infection had no impact on the lifespan of mosquitoes as compared to wild type mosquitoes following CHIKV infection. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:These results could have an impact on vector control strategies in areas where Ae. aegypti are transmitting both DENV and CHIKV; i.e., they argue for further exploration, both in the laboratory and the field, on the feasibility of expanding this technology beyond DENV.
Project description:Wolbachia inherited bacteria are able to invade insect populations using cytoplasmic incompatibility and provide new strategies for controlling mosquito-borne tropical diseases, such as dengue. The overreplicating wMelPop strain was recently shown to strongly inhibit the replication of dengue virus when introduced into Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, as well as to stimulate chronic immune up-regulation. Here we show that stable introduction of the wMel strain of Drosophila melanogaster into Aedes albopictus, a vector of dengue and other arboviruses, abolished the transmission capacity of dengue virus-challenged mosquitoes. Immune up-regulation was observed in the transinfected line, but at a much lower level than that previously found for transinfected Ae. aegypti. Transient infection experiments suggest that this difference is related to Ae. albopictus immunotolerance of Wolbachia, rather than to the Wolbachia strain used. This study provides an example of strong pathogen inhibition in a naturally Wolbachia-infected mosquito species, demonstrating that this inhibition is not limited to naturally naïve species, and suggests that the Wolbachia strain is more important than host background for viral inhibition. Complete bidirectional cytoplasmic incompatibility was observed with WT strains infected with the naturally occurring Ae. albopictus Wolbachia, and this provides a mechanism for introducing wMel into natural populations of this species.
Project description:Background: Yellow fever outbreaks have re-emerged in Brazil during 2016-18, with mortality rates up to 30%. Although urban transmission has not been reported since 1942, the risk of re-urbanization of yellow fever is significant, as Aedes aegypti is present in most tropical and sub-tropical cities in the World and still remains the main vector of urban YFV. Although the YFV vaccine is safe and effective, it does not always reach populations at greatest risk of infection and there is an acknowledged global shortage of vaccine supply. The introgression of Wolbachia bacteria into Ae. aegypti mosquito populations is being trialed in several countries ( www.worldmosquito.org) as a biocontrol method against dengue, Zika and chikungunya. Here, we studied the ability of Wolbachia to reduce the transmission potential of Ae. aegypti mosquitoes for Yellow fever virus (YFV). Methods: Two recently isolated YFV (primate and human) were used to challenge field-derived wild-type and Wolbachia-infected ( wMel +) Ae. aegypti mosquitoes. The YFV infection status was followed for 7, 14 and 21 days post-oral feeding (dpf). The YFV transmission potential of mosquitoes was evaluated via nano-injection of saliva into uninfected mosquitoes or by inoculation in mice. Results: We found that Wolbachia was able to significantly reduce the prevalence of mosquitoes with YFV infected heads and thoraces for both viral isolates. Furthermore, analyses of mosquito saliva, through indirect injection into naïve mosquitoes or via interferon-deficient mouse model, indicated Wolbachia was associated with profound reduction in the YFV transmission potential of mosquitoes (14dpf). Conclusions: Our results suggest that Wolbachia introgression could be used as a complementary strategy for prevention of urban yellow fever transmission, along with the human vaccination program.
Project description:Zika virus (ZIKV) is causing an explosive outbreak of febrile disease in the Americas. There are no effective antiviral therapies or licensed vaccines for this virus, and mosquito control strategies have not been adequate to contain the virus. A promising candidate for arbovirus control and prevention relies on the introduction of the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia into Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. This primarily has been proposed as a tool to control dengue virus (DENV) transmission; however, evidence suggests Wolbachia infections confer protection for Ae. aegypti against other arboviruses. At present, it is unknown whether or not ZIKV can infect, disseminate, and be transmitted by Wolbachia-infected Ae. aegypti. Using Ae. aegypti infected with the wMel strain of Wolbachia that are being released in Medellin, Colombia, we report that these mosquitoes have reduced vector competence for ZIKV. These results support the use of Wolbachia biocontrol as a multivalent strategy against Ae. aegypti-transmitted viruses.
Project description:Wolbachia, an intracellular endosymbiont present in up to 70% of all insect species, has been suggested as a sustainable strategy for the control of arboviruses such as Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya. As Mayaro virus outbreaks have also been reported in Latin American countries, the objective of this study was to evaluate the vector competence of Brazilian field-collected Ae. aegypti and the impact of Wolbachia (wMel strain) upon this virus. Our in vitro studies with Aag2 cells showed that Mayaro virus can rapidly multiply, whereas in wMel-infected Aag2 cells, viral growth was significantly impaired. In addition, C6/36 cells seem to have alterations when infected by Mayaro virus. In vivo experiments showed that field-collected Ae. aegypti mosquitoes are highly permissive to Mayaro virus infection, and high viral prevalence was observed in the saliva. On the other hand, Wolbachia-harboring mosquitoes showed significantly impaired capability to transmit Mayaro virus. Our results suggest that the use of Wolbachia-harboring mosquitoes may represent an effective mechanism for the reduction of Mayaro virus transmission throughout Latin America.
Project description:Mosquitoes transmit a diverse group of human flaviviruses including West Nile, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika viruses. Mosquitoes are also naturally infected with insect-specific flaviviruses (ISFs), a subgroup of the family not capable of infecting vertebrates. Although ISFs are not medically important, they are capable of altering the mosquito's susceptibility to flaviviruses and may alter host fitness. Wolbachia is an endosymbiotic bacterium of insects that when present in mosquitoes limits the replication of co-infecting pathogens, including flaviviruses. Artificially created Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are being released into the wild in a series of trials around the globe with the hope of interrupting dengue and Zika virus transmission from mosquitoes to humans. Our work investigated the effect of Wolbachia on ISF infection in wild-caught Ae. aegypti mosquitoes from field release zones. All field mosquitoes were screened for the presence of ISFs using general degenerate flavivirus primers and their PCR amplicons sequenced. ISFs were found to be common and widely distributed in Ae. aegypti populations. Field mosquitoes consistently had higher ISF infection rates and viral loads compared to laboratory colony material indicating that environmental conditions may modulate ISF infection in Ae. aegypti. Surprisingly, higher ISF infection rates and loads were found in Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes compared to the Wolbachia-free mosquitoes. Our findings demonstrate that the symbiont is capable of manipulating the mosquito virome and that Wolbachia-mediated viral inhibition is not universal for flaviviruses. This may have implications for the Wolbachia-based DENV control strategy if ISFs confer fitness effects or alter mosquito susceptibility to other flaviviruses.
Project description:Dengue has enormous health impacts globally. A novel approach to decrease dengue incidence involves the introduction of Wolbachia endosymbionts that block dengue virus transmission into populations of the primary vector mosquito, Aedes aegypti. The wMel Wolbachia strain has previously been trialed in open releases of Ae. aegypti; however, the wAlbB strain has been shown to maintain higher density than wMel at high larval rearing temperatures. Releases of Ae. aegypti mosquitoes carrying wAlbB were carried out in 6 diverse sites in greater Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with high endemic dengue transmission. The strain was successfully established and maintained at very high population frequency at some sites or persisted with additional releases following fluctuations at other sites. Based on passive case monitoring, reduced human dengue incidence was observed in the release sites when compared to control sites. The wAlbB strain of Wolbachia provides a promising option as a tool for dengue control, particularly in very hot climates.
Project description:Wolbachia pipientis from Drosophila melanogaster (wMel) is an endosymbiotic bacterium that restricts transmission of human pathogenic flaviviruses and alphaviruses, including dengue, Zika, and chikungunya viruses, when introduced into the mosquito vector Aedes aegypti. To date, wMel-infected Ae. aegypti have been released in field trials in 5 countries to evaluate the effectiveness of this strategy for disease control. Despite the success in establishing wMel-infected mosquitoes in wild populations, and the well-characterized antiviral capabilities of wMel, transinfecting different or additional Wolbachia strains into Ae. aegypti may improve disease impact, and perhaps more importantly, could provide a strategy to account for the possible evolution of resistant arboviruses. Here, we report the successful transinfection of Ae. aegypti with the Wolbachia strains wMelCS (D. melanogaster), wRi (D. simulans) and wPip (Culex quinquefasciatus) and assess the effects on Ae. aegypti fitness, cytoplasmic incompatibility, tissue tropism and pathogen blocking in a laboratory setting. The results demonstrate that wMelCS provides a similar degree of protection against dengue virus as wMel following an infectious blood meal, and significantly reduces viral RNA levels beyond that of wMel following a direct challenge with infectious virus in mosquitoes, with no additional fitness cost to the host. The protection provided by wRi is markedly weaker than that of wMelCS, consistent with previous characterisations of these lines in Drosophila, while wPip was found to substantially reduce the fitness of Ae. aegypti. Thus, we determine wMelCS as a key candidate for further testing in field-relevant fitness tests and viremic blood feeding challenges in a clinical setting to determine if it may represent an alternative Wolbachia strain with more desirable attributes than wMel for future field testing.
Project description:The mosquitoes Aedes aegypti (L.) and Ae. albopictus Skuse are the major vectors of dengue, Zika, yellow fever, and chikungunya viruses worldwide. Wolbachia, an endosymbiotic bacterium present in many insects, is being utilized in novel vector control strategies to manipulate mosquito life history and vector competence to curb virus transmission. Earlier studies have found that Wolbachia is commonly detected in Ae. albopictus but rarely detected in Ae. aegypti. In this study, we used a two-step PCR assay to detect Wolbachia in wild-collected samples of Ae. aegypti. The PCR products were sequenced to validate amplicons and identify Wolbachia strains. A loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay was developed and used for detecting Wolbachia in selected mosquito specimens as well. We found Wolbachia in 85/148 (57.4%) wild Ae. aegypti specimens from various cities in New Mexico, and in 2/46 (4.3%) from St. Augustine, Florida. Wolbachia was not detected in 94 samples of Ae. aegypti from Deer Park, Harris County, Texas. Wolbachia detected in Ae. aegypti from both New Mexico and Florida was the wAlbB strain of Wolbachia pipientis. A Wolbachia-positive colony of Ae. aegypti was established from pupae collected in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 2018. The infected females of this strain transmitted Wolbachia to their progeny when crossed with males of Rockefeller strain of Ae. aegypti, which does not carry Wolbachia. In contrast, none of the progeny of Las Cruces males mated to Rockefeller females were infected with Wolbachia.
Project description:Wolbachia pipientis is a common endosymbiotic bacterium of arthropods that strongly inhibits dengue virus (DENV) infection and transmission in the primary vector, the mosquito Aedes aegypti. For that reason, Wolbachia-infected Ae. aegypti are currently being released into the field as part of a novel strategy to reduce DENV transmission. However, there is evidence that DENV can be transmitted vertically from mother to progeny, and this may help the virus persist in nature in the absence of regular human transmission. The effect of Wolbachia infection on this process had not previously been examined.We challenged Ae. aegypti with different Brazilian DENV isolates either by oral feeding or intrathoracic injection to ensure disseminated infection. We examined the effect of Wolbachia infection on the prevalence of DENV infection, and viral load in the ovaries. For orally infected mosquitoes, Wolbachia decreased the prevalence of infection by 71.29%, but there was no such effect when the virus was injected. Interestingly, regardless of the method of infection, Wolbachia infection strongly reduced DENV load in the ovaries. We then looked at the effect of Wolbachia on vertical transmission, where we observed only very low rates of vertical transmission. There was a trend towards lower rates in the presence of Wolbachia, with overall maximum likelihood estimate of infection rates of 5.04 per 1000 larvae for mosquitoes without Wolbachia, and 1.93 per 1000 larvae for Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes, after DENV injection. However, this effect was not statistically significant.Our data support the idea that vertical transmission of DENV is rare in nature, even in the absence of Wolbachia. Indeed, we observed that vertical transmission rates were low even when the midgut barrier was bypassed, which might help to explain why we only observed a trend towards lower vertical transmission rates in the presence of Wolbachia. Nevertheless, the low prevalence of disseminated DENV infection and lower DENV load in the ovaries supports the hypothesis that the presence of Wolbachia in Ae. aegypti would have an effect on the vertical transmission of DENV in the field.