The natural maintenance cycles of many mosquito-borne viruses require establishment of persistent non-lethal infections in the invertebrate host. While the mechanisms by which this occurs are not well understood, antiviral responses directed by small RNAs are important in modulating the pathogenesis of viral infections in disease vector mosquitoes. In yet another example of an evolutionary arms race between host and pathogen, some plant and insect viruses have evolved to encode suppressors of RNA silencing (VSRs). Whether or not mosquito-borne viral pathogens encode VSRs has been the subject of debate. While at first there would seem to be little evolutionary benefit to mosquito-borne viruses encoding proteins or sequences that strongly interfere with RNA silencing, we present here a model explaining how the expression of VSRs by these viruses in the vector might be compatible with the establishment of persistence. We also discuss the challenges associated with interrogating these viruses for the presence of suppressor proteins or sequences, as well as the candidates that have been identified in the genomes of mosquito-borne pathogens thus far.
Nearly all RNA viruses produce double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) during their replication cycles--an important pathogen-associated molecular pattern recognized by the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway in invertebrates and plants. Nodamura virus (NoV) encodes a suppressor of RNA silencing termed B2, which binds to dsRNA and prevents the initiation of RNAi as well as the loading of silencing complexes. Using the published crystal structure of NoV-B2, we performed a series of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to determine the relative electrostatic and van der Waals contributions of various residues in binding dsRNA, identifying four novel potential interactors: R56, E48, P68 and R69. Additionally, steered MD was used to simulate the binding affinity of NoV-B2 sequences bearing substitutions at positions F49, R56 or R59 to dsRNA, with F49S and R56L/R59L substitutions found to have a significant negative impact on the ability of NoV-B2 to bind dsRNA. NoV RNA1 variants were tested for self-directed replication in both vertebrate (RNAi?) and invertebrate (RNAi?) cultured cells. Consistent with a role in dsRNA binding, NoV replication in F49C and F49S variant constructs was affected negatively only in RNAi? cells. Thus, we used a combination of MD simulations and experimental mutagenesis to further characterize residues important for NoV-dsRNA interactions.
The Culicine mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is both a major vector of arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) and a genetic model organism for arbovirus transmission. TALE nucleases (TALENs), a group of artificial enzymes capable of generating site-specific DNA lesions, consist of a non-specific FokI endonuclease cleavage domain fused to an engineered DNA binding domain specific to a target site. While TALENs have become an important tool for targeted gene disruption in a variety of organisms, application to the mosquito genome is a new approach. We recently described the use of TALENs to perform heritable genetic disruptions in A. aegypti. Here, we provide detailed methods that will allow other research laboratories to capitalize on the potential of this technology for understanding mosquito gene function. We describe target site selection, transient embryo-based assays to rapidly assess TALEN activity, embryonic microinjection and downstream screening steps to identify target site mutations.
The impact of global climate change on the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases is the subject of extensive debate. The transmission of mosquito-borne viral diseases is particularly complex, with climatic variables directly affecting many parameters associated with the prevalence of disease vectors. While evidence shows that warmer temperatures often decrease the extrinsic incubation period of an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus), exposure to cooler temperatures often predisposes disease vector mosquitoes to higher infection rates. RNA interference (RNAi) pathways are essential to antiviral immunity in the mosquito; however, few experiments have explored the effects of temperature on the RNAi machinery.
The discovery of small non-coding RNAs has revolutionized our understanding of regulatory networks governing multiple functions in animals and plants. However, our knowledge of mosquito small RNAs is limited. We discuss here the state of current knowledge regarding the roles of small RNAs and their targets in mosquitoes, and describe the ongoing efforts to understand the role of the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway in mosquito antiviral immunity and transposon silencing. Providing a clear picture into the role of small RNAs in mosquito vectors will pave the way to the utilization of these small molecules in developing novel control approaches that target mosquito immunity and/or reproductive events. Elucidation of the functions of small RNAs represents a new frontier in mosquito biology.
Aedes (Ae.) aegypti is the primary vector for dengue viruses (serotypes1-4) and chikungunya virus. Homing endonucleases (HEs) are ancient selfish elements that catalyze double-stranded DNA breaks (DSB) in a highly specific manner. In this report, we show that the HEs Y2-I-AniI, I-CreI and I-SceI are all capable of catalyzing the excision of genomic segments from the Ae. aegypti genome in a heritable manner. Y2-I-AniI demonstrated the highest efficiency at two independent genomic targets, with 20-40% of Y2-I-AniI-treated individuals producing offspring that had lost the target transgene. HE-induced DSBs were found to be repaired via the single-strand annealing (SSA) and non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathways in a manner dependent on the availability of direct repeat sequences in the transgene. These results support the development of HE-based gene editing and gene drive strategies in Ae. aegypti, and confirm the utility of HEs in the manipulation and modification of transgenes in this important vector.
In addition to its role as the primary vector for dengue viruses, Aedes aegypti has a long history as a genetic model organism for other bloodfeeding mosquitoes, due to its ease of colonization, maintenance and reproductive productivity. Though its genome has been sequenced, functional characterization of many Ae. aegypti genes, pathways and behaviors has been slow. TALE nucleases (TALENs) have been used with great success in a number of organisms to generate site-specific DNA lesions. We evaluated the ability of a TALEN pair to target the Ae. aegypti kmo gene, whose protein product is essential in the production of eye pigmentation. Following injection into pre-blastoderm embryos, 20-40% of fertile survivors produced kmo alleles that failed to complement an existing kh(w) mutation. Most of these individuals produced more than 20% white-eyed progeny, with some producing up to 75%. Mutant alleles were associated with lesions of 1-7 bp specifically at the selected target site. White-eyed individuals could also be recovered following a blind intercross of G1 progeny, yielding several new white-eyed strains in the genetic background of the sequenced Liverpool strain. We conclude that TALENs are highly active in the Ae. aegypti germline, and have the potential to transform how reverse genetic experiments are performed in this important disease vector.
Double subgenomic Sindbis virus (dsSINV) vectors are widely used for the expression of proteins, peptides, and RNA sequences. These recombinant RNA viruses permit high level expression of a heterologous sequence in a wide range of animals, tissues, and cells. However, the alphavirus genome structure and replication strategy is not readily amenable to the expression of more than one heterologous sequence. The Rhopalosiphum padi virus (RhPV) genome contains two internal ribosome entry site (IRES) elements that mediate cap-independent translation of the virus nonstructural and structural proteins. Most IRES elements that have been characterized function only in mammalian cells but previous work has shown that the IRES element present in the 5 untranslated region (UTR) of the RhPV genome functions efficiently in mammalian, insect, and plant systems. To determine if the 5 RhPV IRES element could be used to express more than one heterologous sequence from a dsSINV vector, RhPV 5 IRES sequences were placed between genes for two different fluorescent marker proteins in the dsSINV, TE/32J/mcs. While mammalian and insect cells infected with recombinant viruses containing the RhPV sequences expressed both fluorescent marker proteins, only single marker proteins were routinely observed in cells infected with dsSINV vectors in which the RhPV IRES had been replaced by a luciferase fragment, an antisense RhPV IRES, or no intergenic sequence. Thus, we report development of a versatile tool for the expression of multiple sequences in diverse cell types.
The presence of full-length complements of viral genomic RNA is a hallmark of RNA virus replication within an infected cell. As such, methods for detecting and measuring specific strands of viral RNA in infected cells and tissues are important in the study of RNA viruses. Strand-specific quantitative real-time PCR (ssqPCR) assays are increasingly being used for this purpose, but the accuracy of these assays depends on the assumption that the amount of cDNA measured during the quantitative PCR (qPCR) step accurately reflects amounts of a specific viral RNA strand present in the RT reaction. To specifically test this assumption, we developed multiple ssqPCR assays for the positive-strand RNA virus onyong-nyong (ONNV) that were based upon the most prevalent ssqPCR assay design types in the literature. We then compared various parameters of the ONNV-specific assays. We found that an assay employing standard unmodified virus-specific primers failed to discern the difference between cDNAs generated from virus specific primers and those generated through false priming. Further, we were unable to accurately measure levels of ONNV (-) strand RNA with this assay when higher levels of cDNA generated from the (+) strand were present. Taken together, these results suggest that assays of this type do not accurately quantify levels of the anti-genomic strand present during RNA virus infectious cycles. However, an assay permitting the use of a tag-specific primer was able to distinguish cDNAs transcribed from ONNV (-) strand RNA from other cDNAs present, thus allowing accurate quantification of the anti-genomic strand. We also report the sensitivities of two different detection strategies and chemistries, SYBR(R) Green and DNA hydrolysis probes, used with our tagged ONNV-specific ssqPCR assays. Finally, we describe development, design and validation of ssqPCR assays for chikungunya virus (CHIKV), the recent cause of large outbreaks of disease in the Indian Ocean region.
Heat shock genes are highly evolutionarily conserved and are expressed to varying degrees in all organisms in response to stress. Heat shock 70 (hsp70) genes have been well characterized in a number of organisms, most notably Drosophila melanogaster, but not as yet for any of the major arthropod-borne viral mosquito vectors. To identify hsp70 genes in the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae), basic local alignment searches of the Ae. aegypti genome were performed using D. melanogaster Hsp70 protein sequences as query. Two clusters of six previously unannotated AaHsp70 genes were identified and found to be organized into three pairs of nearly identical open reading frames, which mapped to two genomic scaffolds. Consistent with a designation as heat shock genes, no detectable level of expression of AaHsp70 genes was observed under normal rearing conditions (28 degrees C), with robust expression observed with a heat shock of 37-39 degrees C. Northern analysis showed heat-inducible expression of putative AaHsp70 genes at all life stages and in all tissues tested in a time- and temperature-dependent manner. Monitoring of AaHsp70 gene expression levels in field-caught Ae. aegypti may serve as a general marker for stress. In addition, promoter sequences from AaHsp70 genes may be used to control the expression of transgenes in an inducible manner.
The natural maintenance cycles of many mosquito-borne pathogens require establishment of persistent non-lethal infections in the invertebrate host. The mechanism by which this occurs is not well understood, but we have previously shown that an antiviral response directed by small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) is important in modulating the pathogenesis of alphavirus infections in the mosquito. However, we report here that infection of mosquitoes with an alphavirus also triggers the production of another class of virus-derived small RNAs that exhibit many similarities to ping-pong-dependent piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). However, unlike ping-pong-dependent piRNAs that have been described previously from repetitive elements or piRNA clusters, our work suggests production in the soma. We also present evidence that suggests virus-derived piRNA-like small RNAs are capable of modulating the pathogenesis of alphavirus infections in dicer-2 null mutant mosquito cell lines defective in viral siRNA production. Overall, our results suggest that a non-canonical piRNA pathway is present in the soma of vector mosquitoes and may be acting redundantly to the siRNA pathway to target alphavirus replication.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.