Small RNA responses of Culex mosquitoes and cell lines during acute and persistent virus infection.
ABSTRACT: RNA interference is a crucial antiviral mechanism in arthropods, including in mosquito vectors of arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses). Although the exogenous small interfering RNA (siRNA) pathway constitutes an efficient antiviral response in mosquitoes, virus-derived P-element induced wimpy testis (PIWI)-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) have been implicated in the response to alpha-, bunya- and flaviviruses in Aedes spp. mosquitoes. Culex mosquitoes transmit several medically important viruses including West Nile virus (WNV), but are considerably less well studied than Aedes mosquitoes and little is known about antiviral RNA interference in Culex mosquitoes. Therefore, we sequenced small RNA (sRNA) libraries from different Culex cell lines and tissues infected with WNV. The clear majority of virus-derived sRNA reads were 21?nt siRNAs in all cell lines and tissues tested, with no evidence for a role of WNV-derived piRNAs. Additionally, we aligned sRNA reads from Culex quinquefasciatus Hsu cells to the insect-specific rhabdovirus, Merida virus, which persistently replicates in these cells. We found that a significant proportion of the sRNA response to Merida virus consisted of piRNAs. Since viral DNA forms have been implicated in siRNA and piRNA responses of Aedes spp. mosquitoes, we also tested for viral DNA forms in WNV infected Culex cells. We detected viral DNA in Culex tarsalis cells infected with WNV and, to a lesser amount, WNV and Merida virus-derived DNA in Culex quinquefasciatus Hsu cells. In conclusion, Hsu cells generated Merida virus-derived piRNAs, but our data suggests that the major sRNA response of Culex cells and mosquitoes to WNV infection is the exogenous siRNA response. It is also evident that sRNA responses differ significantly between specific virus-mosquito combinations. Future work using additional Culex-borne viruses may further elucidate how virus-derived piRNAs are generated in Culex cells and what role they may play in controlling replication of different viruses.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The recent reports of Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus populations in Turkey, in parallel with the territorial expansion identified in several surrounding countries, have raised concerns about the establishment and re-establishment of these invasive Aedes mosquitoes in Turkey. This cross-sectional study was performed to detect Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus in regions of recent incursions, and screen for viral pathogens known to be transmitted elsewhere by these species. METHODOLOGY:Mosquitoes were collected at several locations in Artvin, Rize and Trabzon provinces of the Black Sea region during 2016-2017, identified morphologically, pooled and analyzed via generic or specific nucleic acid amplification assays. Viruses in positive pools were identified by product sequencing, cell culture inoculation and next generation sequencing (NGS) in selected specimens. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:The study group comprised 791 specimens. Aedes albopictus was the most abundant species in all locations (89.6%), followed by Ae. aegypti (7.8%) and Culex pipiens (2.5%). Mosquitoes were screened for viruses in 65 pools where fifteen (23.1%) were reactive. The infecting strains was identified as West Nile virus (WNV) in 5 pools (7.7%) with Ae. albopictus or Cx. pipiens mosquitoes. The obtained WNV sequences phylogenetically grouped with local and global lineage 1 clade 1a viruses. In 4 (6.2%) and 6 (9.2%) pools, respectively, cell fusing agent virus (CFAV) and Aedes flavivirus (AEFV) sequences were characterized. NGS provided a near-complete AEFV genome in a pool of Ae. albopictus. The strain is provisionally called "AEFV-Turkey", and functional analysis of the genome revealed several conserved motifs and regions associated with virus replication. Merida-like virus Turkey (MERDLVT), a recently-described novel rhabdovirus, was also co-detected in a Cx. pipiens pool also positive for WNV. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:Invasive Aedes mosquitoes are established in certain locations of northeastern Turkey. Herein we conclusively show the role of these species in WNV circulation in the region. Biosurveillance is imperative to monitor the spread of these species further into Asia Minor and to detect possible introduction of pathogens.
Project description:Small RNA mediated responses are essential for antiviral defence in mosquitoes, however, they appear to differ per virus-vector combination. To further investigate the diversity of small RNA responses against viruses in mosquitoes, we applied a small RNA deep sequencing approach on five mosquito cell lines: Culex tarsalis CT cells, Aedes albopictus U4.4 and C6/36 cells, Ae. aegypti Aag2 cells (cleared from cell fusing agent virus and Culex Y virus (CYV) by repetitive dsRNA transfections) and Ae. pseudoscutellaris AP-61 cells. De novo assembly of small RNAs revealed the presence of Phasi Charoen-like virus (PCLV), Calbertado virus, Flock House virus and a novel narnavirus in CT cells, CYV in U4.4 cells, and PCLV in Aag2 cells, whereas no insect-specific viruses (ISVs) were detected in C6/36 and AP-61 cells. Next, we investigated the small RNA responses to the identified ISVs and to acute infection with the arthropod-borne West Nile virus (WNV). We demonstrate that AP-61 and C6/36 cells do not produce siRNAs to WNV infection, suggesting that AP-61, like C6/36, are Dicer-2 deficient. CT cells produced a strong siRNA response to the persistent ISVs and acute WNV infection. Interestingly, CT cells also produced viral PIWI-interacting (pi)RNAs to PCLV, but not to WNV or any of the other ISVs. In contrast, in U4.4 and Aag2 cells, WNV siRNAs, and pi-like RNAs without typical ping-pong piRNA signature were observed, while this signature was present in PCLV piRNAs in Aag2 cells. Together, our results demonstrate that mosquito small RNA responses are strongly dependent on both the mosquito cell type and/or the mosquito species and family of the infecting virus.
Project description:This study was designed to assess whether churches in endemic dengue districts in Merida, Mexico provide suitable breeding habitats for mosquitoes and are potential sites for dengue virus (DENV) transmission. Churches were inspected for immature and adult mosquitoes once every week from November 2015 to October 2016. A total of 10,997 immatures of five species were collected. The most abundant species were Aedes aegypti (6,051) and Culex quinquefasciatus (3,018). The most common source of immature Ae. aegypti were buckets followed by disposable containers. Adult collections yielded 21,226 mosquitoes of nine species. The most common species were Cx. quinquefasciatus (15,215) and Ae. aegypti (3,902). Aedes aegypti were found all year long. Female Ae. aegypti (1,380) were sorted into pools (166) and assayed for flavivirus RNA by RT-PCR and Sanger sequencing. Two pools were positive for DENV (DENV-1 and 2). In conclusion, we demonstrated that some churches in Merida are infested with mosquitoes all year long and they potentially serve as sites for DENV transmission and should therefore be considered for inclusion in mosquito and arboviruses control and surveillance efforts.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression in a variety of organisms, including insects, vertebrates, and plants. miRNAs play important roles in cell development and differentiation as well as in the cellular response to stress and infection. To date, there are limited reports of miRNA identification in mosquitoes, insects that act as essential vectors for the transmission of many human pathogens, including flaviviruses. West Nile virus (WNV) and dengue virus, members of the Flaviviridae family, are primarily transmitted by Aedes and Culex mosquitoes. Using high-throughput deep sequencing, we examined the miRNA repertoire in Ae. albopictus cells and Cx. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes.<h4>Results</h4>We identified a total of 65 miRNAs in the Ae. albopictus C7/10 cell line and 77 miRNAs in Cx. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes, the majority of which are conserved in other insects such as Drosophila melanogaster and Anopheles gambiae. The most highly expressed miRNA in both mosquito species was miR-184, a miRNA conserved from insects to vertebrates. Several previously reported Anopheles miRNAs, including miR-1890 and miR-1891, were also found in Culex and Aedes, and appear to be restricted to mosquitoes. We identified seven novel miRNAs, arising from nine different precursors, in C7/10 cells and Cx. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes, two of which have predicted orthologs in An. gambiae. Several of these novel miRNAs reside within a ~350 nt long cluster present in both Aedes and Culex. miRNA expression was confirmed by primer extension analysis. To determine whether flavivirus infection affects miRNA expression, we infected female Culex mosquitoes with WNV. Two miRNAs, miR-92 and miR-989, showed significant changes in expression levels following WNV infection.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Aedes and Culex mosquitoes are important flavivirus vectors. Recent advances in both mosquito genomics and high-throughput sequencing technologies enabled us to interrogate the miRNA profile in these two species. Here, we provide evidence for over 60 conserved and seven novel mosquito miRNAs, expanding upon our current understanding of insect miRNAs. Undoubtedly, some of the miRNAs identified will have roles not only in mosquito development, but also in mediating viral infection in the mosquito host.
Project description:The emerging bunyavirus Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is transmitted to humans and livestock by a large number of mosquito species. RNA interference (RNAi) has been characterized as an important innate immune defense mechanism used by mosquitoes to limit replication of positive-sense RNA flaviviruses and togaviruses; however, little is known about its role against negative-strand RNA viruses such as RVFV. We show that virus-specific small RNAs are produced in infected mosquito cells, in Drosophila melanogaster cells, and, most importantly, also in RVFV vector mosquitoes. By addressing the production of small RNAs in adult Aedes sp. and Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes, we showed the presence of virus-derived Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) not only in Aedes sp. but also in C. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes, indicating that antiviral RNA interference in C. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes is similar to the described activities of RNAi in Aedes sp. mosquitoes. We also show that these have antiviral activity, since silencing of RNAi pathway effectors enhances viral replication. Moreover, our data suggest that RVFV does not encode a suppressor of RNAi. These findings point toward a significant role of RNAi in the control of RVFV in mosquitoes. IMPORTANCE Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV; Phlebovirus, Bunyaviridae) is an emerging zoonotic mosquito-borne pathogen of high relevance for human and animal health. Successful strategies of intervention in RVFV transmission by its mosquito vectors and the prevention of human and veterinary disease rely on a better understanding of the mechanisms that govern RVFV-vector interactions. Despite its medical importance, little is known about the factors that govern RVFV replication, dissemination, and transmission in the invertebrate host. Here we studied the role of the antiviral RNA interference immune pathways in the defense against RVFV in natural vector mosquitoes and mosquito cells and draw comparisons to the model insect Drosophila melanogaster. We found that RVFV infection induces both the exogenous small interfering RNA (siRNA) and piRNA pathways, which contribute to the control of viral replication in insects. Furthermore, we demonstrate the production of virus-derived piRNAs in Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes. Understanding these pathways and the targets within them offers the potential of the development of novel RVFV control measures in vector-based strategies.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The natural history and potential impact of mosquito-specific flaviviruses on the transmission efficiency of West Nile virus (WNV) is unknown. The objective of this study was to determine whether or not prior infection with Culex flavivirus (CxFV) Izabal altered the vector competence of Cx. quinquefasciatus Say for transmission of a co-circulating strain of West Nile virus (WNV) from Guatemala. METHODS AND FINDINGS: CxFV-negative Culex quinquefasciatus and those infected with CxFV Izabal by intrathoracic inoculation were administered WNV-infectious blood meals. Infection, dissemination, and transmission of WNV were measured by plaque titration on Vero cells of individual mosquito bodies, legs, or saliva, respectively, two weeks following WNV exposure. Additional groups of Cx. quinquefasciatus were intrathoracically inoculated with WNV alone or WNV+CxFV Izabal simultaneously, and saliva collected nine days post inoculation. Growth of WNV in Aedes albopictus C6/36 cells or Cx. quinquefasciatus was not inhibited by prior infection with CxFV Izabal. There was no significant difference in the vector competence of Cx. quinquefasciatus for WNV between mosquitoes uninfected or infected with CxFV Izabal across multiple WNV blood meal titers and two colonies of Cx. quinquefasciatus (p>0.05). However, significantly more Cx. quinquefasciatus from Honduras that were co-inoculated simultaneously with both viruses transmitted WNV than those inoculated with WNV alone (p = 0.0014). Co-inoculated mosquitoes that transmitted WNV also contained CxFV in their saliva, whereas mosquitoes inoculated with CxFV alone did not contain virus in their saliva. CONCLUSIONS: In the sequential infection experiments, prior infection with CxFV Izabal had no significant impact on WNV replication, infection, dissemination, or transmission by Cx. quinquefasciatus, however WNV transmission was enhanced in the Honduras colony when mosquitoes were inoculated simultaneously with both viruses.
Project description:High throughput sequencing was performed using Illumina HiSeq to identify differentially regulated genes in Culex mosquitoes after West Nile virus infection. Overall design: Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito cell line (Hsu) was infected with West Nile virus for 48 hours, paired-end sequencing was performed on the transcriptome. The experiment was conducted in duplicate. Sequence reads were mapped to Culex quin transcripts in Vectorbase by using Tophat2 and abundaces of specific transcripts were compared between control and West Nile virus infected samples using Cufflinks.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia pipientis has been shown to increase host resistance to viral infection in native Drosophila hosts and in the normally Wolbachia-free heterologous host Aedes aegypti when infected by Wolbachia from Drosophila melanogaster or Aedes albopictus. Wolbachia infection has not yet been demonstrated to increase viral resistance in a native Wolbachia-mosquito host system. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:In this study, we investigated Wolbachia-induced resistance to West Nile virus (WNV; Flaviviridae) by measuring infection susceptibility in Wolbachia-infected and Wolbachia-free D. melanogaster and Culex quinquefasciatus, a natural mosquito vector of WNV. Wolbachia infection of D. melanogaster induces strong resistance to WNV infection. Wolbachia-infected flies had a 500-fold higher ID50 for WNV and produced 100,000-fold lower virus titers compared to flies lacking Wolbachia. The resistance phenotype was transmitted as a maternal, cytoplasmic factor and was fully reverted in flies cured of Wolbachia. Wolbachia infection had much less effect on the susceptibility of D. melanogaster to Chikungunya (Togaviridae) and La Crosse (Bunyaviridae) viruses. Wolbachia also induces resistance to WNV infection in Cx. quinquefasciatus. While Wolbachia had no effect on the overall rate of peroral infection by WNV, Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes produced lower virus titers and had 2 to 3-fold lower rates of virus transmission compared to mosquitoes lacking Wolbachia. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:This is the first demonstration that Wolbachia can increase resistance to arbovirus infection resulting in decreased virus transmission in a native Wolbachia-mosquito system. The results suggest that Wolbachia reduces vector competence in Cx. quinquefasciatus, and potentially in other Wolbachia-infected mosquito vectors.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Mosquito galactose-specific C-type lectins (mosGCTLs), such as mosGCTL-1, act as ligands to facilitate the invasion of flaviviruses like West Nile virus (WNV). WNV interacts with the <i>mosGCTL-1</i> of <i>Aedes aegypti</i> (Culicidae) and facilitates the invasion of this virus. Nevertheless, there is no data about the role of mosGCTL-1 as a transmission-blocking vaccine candidate in <i>Culex pipiens</i>, the most abundant Culicinae mosquito in temperate regions.<h4>Methods</h4>Adult female <i>Cx. pipiens</i> mosquitoes were experimentally infected with a WNV infectious blood meal, and the effect of rabbit anti-rmosGCTL-1 antibodies on virus replication was evaluated. Additionally, in silico studies such as the prediction of protein structure, homology modeling, and molecular interactions were carried out.<h4>Results</h4>We showed a 30% blocking activity of <i>Cx. pipiens mosGCTL-1</i> polyclonal antibodies (compared to the 10% in the control group) with a decrease in infection rates in mosquitoes at day 5 post-infection, suggesting that there may be other proteins in the midgut of <i>Cx. pipiens</i> that could act as cooperative-receptors for WNV. In addition, docking results revealed that WNV binds with high affinity, to the <i>Culex</i> mosquito lectin receptors.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our results do not support the idea that mosGCTL-1 of <i>Cx. pipiens</i> primarily interacts with WNV to promote viral infection, suggesting that other mosGCTLs may act as primary infection factors in <i>Cx. pipiens.</i>
Project description:In the period from 2015 to 2020, an entomological survey for the presence of West Nile virus (WNV) and Usutu virus (USUV) in mosquitoes was performed in northwestern Croatia. A total of 20,363 mosquitoes were sampled in the City of Zagreb and Međimurje county, grouped in 899 pools and tested by real-time RT-PCR for WNV and USUV RNA. All pools were negative for WNV while one pool each from 2016 (<i>Aedes albopictus</i>), 2017 (<i>Culex pipiens</i> complex), 2018 (<i>Cx. pipiens</i> complex), and 2019 (<i>Cx. pipiens</i> complex), respectively, was positive for USUV. The 2018 and 2019 positive pools shared 99.31% nucleotide homology within the USUV NS5 gene and both clustered within USUV Europe 2 lineage. The next-generation sequencing of one mosquito pool (<i>Cx. pipiens</i> complex) collected in 2018 in Zagreb confirmed the presence of USUV and revealed several dsDNA and ssRNA viruses of insect, bacterial and mammalian origin.