A mosquito small RNA genomics resource reveals dynamic evolution and host responses to viruses and transposons

Qicheng Ma, Satyam P. Srivastav, Stephanie Gamez, Gargi Dayama, Fabiana Feitosa-Suntheimer, Edward I. Patterson, Rebecca M. Johnson, Erik M. Matson, Alexander S. Gold, Douglas E. Brackney, John H. Connor, Tonya M. Colpitts, Grant L. Hughes, Jason L. Rasgon, Tony Nolan, Omar S. Akbari, Nelson C. Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Although mosquitoes are major transmission vectors for pathogenic arboviruses, viral infection has little impact on mosquito health. This immunity is caused in part by mosquito RNA interference (RNAi) pathways that generate antiviral small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). RNAi also maintains genome integrity by potently repressing mosquito transposon activity in the germline and soma. However, viral and transposon small RNA regulatory pathways have not been systematically examined together in mosquitoes. Therefore, we developed an integrated mosquito small RNA genomics (MSRG) resource that analyzes the transposon and virus small RNA profiles in mosquito cell cultures and somatic and gonadal tissues across four medically important mosquito species. Our resource captures both somatic and gonadal small RNA expression profiles within mosquito cell cultures, and we report the evolutionary dynamics of a novel Mosquito-Conserved piRNA Cluster Locus (MCpiRCL) made up of satellite DNA repeats. In the larger culicine mosquito genomes we detected highly regular periodicity in piRNA biogenesis patterns coinciding with the expansion of Piwi pathway genes. Finally, our resource enables detection of cross talk between piRNA and siRNA populations in mosquito cells during a response to virus infection. The MSRG resource will aid efforts to dissect and combat the capacity of mosquitoes to tolerate and spread arboviruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-528
Number of pages17
JournalGenome research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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