In Vitro and In Vivo Coinfection and Superinfection Dynamics of Mayaro and Zika Viruses in Mosquito and Vertebrate Backgrounds

Marco Brustolin, Sujit Pujhari, Gerard Terradas, Kristine Werling, Sultan Asad, Hillery C. Metz, Cory A. Henderson, Donghun Kim, Jason L. Rasgon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Globalization and climate change have contributed to the simultaneous increase and spread of arboviral diseases. Cocirculation of several arboviruses in the same geographic region provides an impetus to study the impacts of multiple concurrent infections within an individual vector mosquito. Here, we describe coinfection and superinfection with the Mayaro virus (Togaviridae, Alphavirus) and Zika virus (Flaviviridae, Flavivirus) in vertebrate and mosquito cells, as well as Aedes aegypti adult mosquitoes, to understand the interaction dynamics of these pathogens and effects on viral infection, dissemination, and transmission. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were able to be infected with and transmit both pathogens simultaneously. However, whereas Mayaro virus was largely unaffected by coinfection, it had a negative impact on infection and dissemination rates for Zika virus compared to single infection scenarios. Superinfection of Mayaro virus atop a previous Zika virus infection resulted in increased Mayaro virus infection rates. At the cellular level, we found that mosquito and vertebrate cells were also capable of being simultaneously infected with both pathogens. Similar to our findings in vivo, Mayaro virus negatively affected Zika virus replication in vertebrate cells, displaying complete blocking under certain conditions. Viral interference did not occur in mosquito cells. IMPORTANCE Epidemiological and clinical studies indicate that multiple arboviruses are cocirculating in human populations, leading to some individuals carrying more than one arbovirus at the same time. In turn, mosquitoes can become infected with multiple pathogens simultaneously (coinfection) or sequentially (superinfection). Coinfection and superinfection can have synergistic, neutral, or antagonistic effects on viral infection dynamics and ultimately have impacts on human health. Here we investigate the interaction between Zika virus and Mayaro virus, two emerging mosquito-borne pathogens currently circulating together in Latin America and the Caribbean. We find a major mosquito vector of these viruses—Aedes aegypti—can carry and transmit both arboviruses at the same time. Our findings emphasize the importance of considering co- and superinfection dynamics during vector–pathogen interaction studies, surveillance programs, and risk assessment efforts in epidemic areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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