Using genetic variation in Aedes aegypti to identify candidate anti-dengue virus genes

Gerard Terradas, Elizabeth A. McGraw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Transcriptomic profiling has generated extensive lists of genes that respond to viral infection in mosquitoes. These gene lists contain two types of genes; (1) those that are responsible for the insect's natural antiviral defense mechanisms, including some known innate immunity genes, and (2) genes whose change in expression may occur simply as a result of infection. As genetic modification tools for mosquitoes continue to improve, the opportunities to make refractory insects via allelic replacement or delivery of small RNAs that alter gene expression are expanding. Therefore, the ability to identify which genes in transcriptional profiles may have immune function has increasing value. Arboviruses encounter a range of mosquito tissues and physiologies as they traverse from the midgut to the salivary glands. While the midgut is well-studied as the primary tissue barrier, antiviral genes expressed in the subsequent tissues of the carcass offer additional candidates for second stage intervention in the mosquito body. Methods: Mosquito lines collected recently from field populations exhibit natural genetic variation for dengue virus susceptibility. We sought to use a modified full-sib breeding design to identify mosquito families that varied in their dengue viral load in their bodies post infection. Results: By delivering virus intrathoracically, we bypassed the midgut and focused on whole body responses in order to evaluate carcass-associated refractoriness. We tested 25 candidate genes selected for their appearance in multiple published transcriptional profiles and were able to identify 12 whose expression varied with susceptibility in the genetic families. Conclusions: This method, using natural genetic variation, offers a simple means to screen and reduce candidate gene lists prior to carrying out more labor-intensive functional studies. The extracted RNA from the females across the families represents a storable resource that can be used to screen subsequent candidate genes in the future. The aspect of vector competence being assessed could be varied by focusing on different tissues or time points post infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number580
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 4 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases


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