Saliva of blood sucking arthropods contains compounds that antagonize their hosts' hemostasis, which include platelet aggregation, vasoconstriction and blood clotting; saliva of these organisms also has anti-inflammatory and immunomodullatory properties. Perhaps because hosts mount an active immune response against these compounds, the diversity of these compounds is large even among related blood sucking species. Because of these properties, saliva helps blood feeding as well as help the establishment of pathogens that can be transmitted during blood feeding.
We have obtained 1,626,969 reads by pyrosequencing a salivary gland cDNA library from adult females Amblyomma maculatum ticks at different times of feeding. Assembly of this data produced 72,441 sequences larger than 149 nucleotides from which 15,914 coding sequences were extracted. Of these, 5,353 had >75% coverage to their best match in the non-redundant database from the National Center for Biotechnology information, allowing for the deposition of 4,850 sequences to GenBank. The annotated data sets are available as hyperlinked spreadsheets. Putative secreted proteins were classified in 133 families, most of which have no known function.
This data set of proteins constitutes a mining platform for novel pharmacologically active proteins and for uncovering vaccine targets against A. maculatum and the diseases they carry.
Culex spp. mosquitoes are considered to be the most important vectors of West Nile virus (WNV) detected in at least 34 species of mosquitoes in the United States. In North America, Culex pipiens pipiens, Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus, and Culex tarsalis are all competent vectors of WNV, which is considered to be enzootic in the United States and has also been detected in equines and birds in many states of Mexico and in humans in Nuevo Leon. There is potential for WNV to be introduced into Mexico City by various means including infected mosquitoes on airplanes, migrating birds, ground transportation and infected humans. Little is known of the geographic distribution of Culex pipiens complex mosquitoes and hybrids in Mexico City. Culex pipiens pipiens preferentially feed on avian hosts; Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus have historically been considered to prefer mammalian hosts; and hybrids of these two species could theoretically serve as bridge vectors to transmit WNV from avian hosts to humans and other mammalian hosts. In order to address the potential of WNV being introduced into Mexico City, we have determined the identity and spatial distribution of Culex pipiens complex mosquitoes and their hybrids.
Mosquito larvae collected from 103 sites throughout Mexico City during 2004-2005 were identified as Culex, Culiseta or Ochlerotatus by morphological analysis. Within the genus Culex, specimens were further identified as Culex tarsalis or as belonging to the Culex pipiens complex. Members of the Culex pipiens complex were separated by measuring the ratio of the dorsal and ventral arms (DV/D ratio) of the male genitalia and also by using diagnostic primers designed for the Ace.2 gene. Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus was the most abundant form collected.
Important WNV vectors species, Cx. p. pipiens, Cx. p. quinquefasciatus and Cx. tarsalis, are all present in Mexico City. Hybrids of Cx. p. pipiens and Cx. p. quinquefasciatus were also collected and identified. The presence and abundance of these WNV competent vectors is a cause for concern. Understanding the distribution of these vectors can help improve viral surveillance activities and mosquito control efforts in Mexico City.
All adult mosquitoes take sugar meals, and most adult females also take blood meals to develop eggs. Salivary glands (SG) of males are thus much smaller and do not contain many of the antihemostatic and antiinflammatory compounds found in females. In the past 5 years, transcriptome analyses have identified nearly 70 different genes expressed in adult female SG. For most of these, no function can be assigned in either blood or sugar feeding. Exceptionally, Toxorhynchites mosquitoes are unusual in that they never feed on blood, and the SG of adults are identical in both sexes. Transcriptome analysis of the adult SG of this mosquito was performed to increase knowledge of the evolution of blood feeding—and to identify polypeptide families associated with sugar feeding—in mosquitoes.
Salivary glands; Transcriptome; Mosquito; Hematophagy
In some mosquito species the conditions experienced by larvae during development have been shown to lead to changes in susceptibility to various arboviruses in the adult female. Since laboratory mosquitoes are generally reared under ideal conditions, mosquito vector competence experiments in the laboratory may not accurately reflect vector–virus relationships in nature. We examined the consequences of larval nutritional stress on Culex tarsalis vector competence for West Nile virus (WNV). Larval nutrition deprivation resulted in increased development time, decreased pupation and emergence rates, and smaller adult female body size. However, infection, dissemination, and transmission rates for WNV at 5, 7, and 14 days postfeeding were not consistently affected. These results suggest that larval nutritional rearing protocols are not a major factor in laboratory estimates of WNV vector competence in Cx. tarsalis.
Culex; West Nile
To identify the mosquito species competent for West Nile virus (WNV) transmission, we evaluated 10 California species that are known vectors of other arboviruses or major pests: Culex tarsalis, Cx. pipiens pipiens, Cx. p. quinquefasciatus, Cx. stigmatosoma, Cx. erythrothorax, Ochlerotatus dorsalis, Oc. melanimon, Oc. sierrensis, Aedes vexans, and Culiseta inornata. All 10 became infected and were able to transmit WNV at some level. Ochlerotatus, Culiseta, and Aedes were low to moderately efficient vectors. They feed primarily on mammals and could play a secondary role in transmission. Oc. sierrensis, a major pest species, and Cx. p. quinquefasciatus from southern California were the least efficient laboratory vectors. Cx. tarsalis, Cx. stigmatosoma, Cx. erythrothorax, and other populations of Cx. pipiens complex were the most efficient laboratory vectors. Culex species are likely to play the primary role in the enzootic maintenance and transmission of WNV in California.
West Nile virus; vector competence; mosquito; Culex
Mosquito salivary proteins (MSPs) modulate the host immune response, leading to enhancement of arboviral infections. Identification of proteins in saliva responsible for immunomodulation and counteracting their effects on host immune response is a potential strategy to protect against arboviral disease. We selected a member of the D7 protein family, which are among the most abundant and immunogenic in mosquito saliva, as a vaccine candidate with the aim of neutralizing effects on the mammalian immune response normally elicited by mosquito saliva components during arbovirus transmission.
We identified D7 salivary proteins of Culex tarsalis, a West Nile virus (WNV) vector in North America, and expressed 36 kDa recombinant D7 (rD7) protein for use as a vaccine. Vaccinated mice exhibited enhanced interferon-γ and decreased interleukin-10 expression after uninfected mosquito bite; however, we found unexpectedly that rD7 vaccination resulted in enhanced pathogenesis from mosquito-transmitted WNV infection. Passive transfer of vaccinated mice sera to naïve mice also resulted in increased mortality rates from subsequent mosquito-transmitted WNV infection, implicating the humoral immune response to the vaccine in enhancement of viral pathogenesis. Vaccinated mice showed decreases in interferon-γ and increases in splenocytes producing the regulatory cytokine IL-10 after WNV infection by mosquito bite.
Vector saliva vaccines have successfully protected against other blood-feeding arthropod-transmitted diseases. Nevertheless, the rD7 salivary protein vaccine was not a good candidate for protection against WNV disease since immunized mice infected via an infected mosquito bite exhibited enhanced mortality. Selection of salivary protein vaccines on the bases of abundance and immunogenicity does not predict efficacy.
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus found on all continents except Antarctica. Humans and equines are not part of the natural transmission cycle, but when they become infected severe illness or death can result. There is no human vaccine for WNV available, so novel approaches to preventing infection are needed. Mosquito saliva deposited with WNV alters the immune response of the bitten host and potentiates virus transmission and pathogenesis. Previous research with pre-exposure to arthropod salivary proteins showed promising results in blocking the transmission of malaria and Leishmania parasites, thus we hypothesized a similar outcome for vaccination with a MSP in protection from arbovirus disease. Unexpectedly, our results showed that administration of a vaccine consisting of a recombinant mosquito salivary protein (rD7) and subsequent mosquito transmission of WNV led to more severe disease and increased death rates in mice. Additionally, when serum from vaccinated mice was transferred to naïve mice, those animals also succumbed to severe mosquito-transmitted WNV disease, suggesting that anti-rD7 antibodies elicited by the vaccine played a role in enhanced disease. We conclude that the rD7 protein vaccine we developed is not a suitable candidate for altering the host immune response to WNV infection to provide increased protection from disease.
Temperature is known to induce changes in mosquito physiology, development, ecology, and in some species, vector competence for arboviruses. Since colonized mosquitoes are reared under laboratory conditions that can be significantly different from their field counterparts, laboratory vector competence experiments may not accurately reflect natural vector-virus interactions.
We evaluated the effects of larval rearing temperature on immature development parameters and vector competence of two Culex tarsalis strains for West Nile virus (WNV).
Rearing temperature had a significant effect on mosquito developmental parameters, including shorter time to pupation and emergence and smaller female body size as temperature increased. However, infection, dissemination, and transmission rates for WNV at 5, 7, and 14 days post infectious feeding were not consistently affected.
These results suggest that varying constant larval rearing temperature does not significantly affect laboratory estimates of vector competence for WNV in Culex tarsalis mosquitoes.
Mosquito; West Nile virus; Global climate change; Transmission; Development
Host selection by vector mosquitoes is a critical component of virus proliferation, particularly for viruses such as West Nile (WNV) that are transmitted enzootically to a variety of avian hosts, and tangentially to dead-end hosts such as humans. Culex tarsalis is a principal vector of WNV in rural areas of western North America. Based on previous work, Cx. tarsalis utilizes a variety of avian and mammalian hosts and tends to feed more frequently on mammals in the late summer than during the rest of the year. To further explore this and other temporal changes in host selection, bloodfed females were collected at a rural farmstead and heron nesting site in Northern California from May 2008 through May 2009, and bloodmeal hosts identified using either a microsphere-based array or by sequencing of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene. Host composition during summer was dominated by four species of nesting Ardeidae. In addition, the site was populated with various passerine species as well as domestic farm animals and humans. When present, Cx. tarsalis fed predominantly (>80%) upon the ardeids, with Black-crowned Night-Herons, a highly competent WNV host, the most prevalent summer host. As the ardeids fledged and left the area and mosquito abundance increased in late summer, Cx. tarsalis feeding shifted to include more mammals, primarily cattle, and a high diversity of avian species. In the winter, Yellow-billed Magpies and House Sparrows were the predominant hosts, and Yellow-billed Magpies and American Robins were fed upon more frequently than expected given their relative abundance. These data demonstrated that host selection was likely based both on host availability and differences in utilization, that the shift of bloodfeeding to include more mammalian hosts was likely the result of both host availability and increased mosquito abundance, and that WNV-competent hosts were fed upon by Cx. tarsalis throughout the year.
West Nile virus (WNV) is transmitted from one vertebrate host to another by the bite of a mosquito. The virus is maintained primarily in birds, but can also be transmitted to mammals such as horses and humans which may suffer severe neurological disease. Culex tarsalis is a primary mosquito vector of WNV in the western United States. Because this mosquito will bite a variety of host species, understanding bloodfeeding patterns and host selection is important for understanding WNV transmission. In our study, the bloodfeeding patterns of Cx. tarsalis varied markedly throughout the year. During summer nesting herons were utilized almost exclusively; avian host diversity increased in the fall, when an increase in the proportion of bloodfeeding on mammals was also observed. Yellow-billed Magpies and House Sparrows were common hosts in the winter, when no mammalian bloodmeals were detected. Seasonal shifts corresponded to both changes in host availability and mosquito density; however, WNV-competent hosts were fed upon throughout the year. This work supports the role of Cx. tarsalis as a vector of WNV to both avian and mammalian hosts and provides insight into seasonal changes in host selection that may influence the seasonality of WNV transmission to equines and humans.
Saliva of hematophagous arthropods contains a diverse mixture of compounds that counteracts host hemostasis. Immunomodulatory and antiinflammatory components are also found in these organisms' saliva. Blood feeding evolved at least ten times within arthropods, providing a scenario of convergent evolution for the solution of the salivary potion. Perhaps because of immune pressure from hosts, the salivary proteins of related organisms have considerable divergence, and new protein families are often found within different genera of the same family or even among subgenera. Fleas radiated with their vertebrate hosts, including within the mammal expansion initiated 65 million years ago. Currently, only one flea species–the rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis–has been investigated by means of salivary transcriptome analysis to reveal salivary constituents, or sialome. We present the analysis of the sialome of cat flea Ctenocephaides felis.
Methodology and Critical Findings
A salivary gland cDNA library from adult fleas was randomly sequenced, assembled, and annotated. Sialomes of cat and rat fleas have in common the enzyme families of phosphatases (inactive), CD-39-type apyrase, adenosine deaminases, and esterases. Antigen-5 members are also common to both sialomes, as are defensins. FS-I/Cys7 and the 8-Cys families of peptides are also shared by both fleas and are unique to these organisms. The Gly-His-rich peptide similar to holotricin was found only in the cat flea, as were the abundantly expressed Cys-less peptide and a novel short peptide family.
Fleas, in contrast to bloodsucking Nematocera (mosquitoes, sand flies, and black flies), appear to concentrate a good portion of their sialome in small polypeptides, none of which have a known function but could act as inhibitors of hemostasis or inflammation. They are also unique in expansion of a phosphatase family that appears to be deficient of enzyme activity and has an unknown function.
Most of sequenced West Nile virus (WNV) genomes encode a single N-linked glycosylation site on their envelope (E) proteins. We previously found that WNV lacking the E protein glycan was severely inhibited in its ability to replicate and spread within two important mosquito vector species, Culex pipiens and Cx. tarsalis. However, recent work with a closely related species, Cx. pipiens pallens, found no association between E protein glycosylation and either replication or dissemination. To examine this finding further, we expanded upon our previous studies to include an additional Culex species, Cx. quinquefasciatus. The non-glycosylated WNV-N154I virus replicated less efficiently in mosquito tissues after intrathoracic inoculation, but there was little difference in replication efficiency in the midgut after peroral infection. Interestingly, although infectivity was inhibited when WNV lacked the E protein glycan, there was little difference in viral spread throughout the mosquito. These data indicate that E protein glycosylation affects WNV–vector interactions in a species-specific manner.
West Nile virus (WNV) invaded Los Angeles in September 2003, and during the subsequent five-year period followed a pattern of amplification, subsidence, and resurgence. Enzootic transmission was tracked by abundance and infection incidence in Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus and Cx. tarsalis and by seroprevalence in peridomestic passerine birds, infection in dead birds, and seroconversions in sentinel chickens. Culex p. quinquefasciatus served as the primary vector of WNV, with gravid traps serving as the best sampling method and the most consistent indicator of viral activity. Spatial scan statistics applied to mosquito infection and positive dead bird data delimited three major clusters of WNV transmission, with introduction occurring in the Los Angeles Basin, and amplification and dispersal events carrying transmission to the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys. Los Angeles experienced major epidemics in 2004 and 2008, providing a unique opportunity to investigate specific patterns of enzootic amplification preceding epidemics.
After introduction, West Nile virus (WNV) spread rapidly across the western United States between the years 2001 and 2004. This westward movement is thought to have been mediated by random dispersive movements of resident birds. Little attention has been placed on the role of mosquito vectors in virus dispersal across North America. The mosquito vector largely responsible for WNV amplification and transmission of WNV in the western USA is Culex tarsalis. Here we present population genetic data that suggest a potential role for C. tarsalis in the dispersal of WNV across the western USA. Population genetic structure across the species range of C. tarsalis in the USA was characterized in 16 states using 12 microsatellite loci. STRUCTURE and GENELAND analyses indicated the presence of three broad population clusters. Barriers to gene flow were resolved near the Sonoran desert in southern Arizona and between the eastern Rocky Mountains and High Plains plateau. Small genetic distances among populations within clusters indicated that gene flow was not obstructed over large portions of the West Coast and within the Great Plains region. Overall, gene flow in C. tarsalis appears to be extensive, potentially mediated by movement of mosquitoes among neighboring populations and hindered in geographically limited parts of its range. The pattern of genetic clustering in C. tarsalis is congruent with the pattern of invasion of West Nile virus (WNV) across the western United States, raising the possibility that movement of this important vector may be involved in viral dispersal.
Culex tarsalis; West Nile virus; mosquito; gene flow; genetic structure; viral dispersal
Transmission of West Nile virus (WNV) on mainland California poses an ongoing threat to the island scrub-jay (ISSJ, Aphelocoma insularis), a species that occurs only on Santa Cruz Island, California, and whose total population numbers <5000. Our report describes the surveillance and management efforts conducted since 2006 that are designed to understand and mitigate for the consequences of WNV introduction into the ISSJ population. We suspect that WNV would most likely be introduced to the island via the movement of infected birds from the mainland. However, antibody testing of >750 migrating and resident birds on the island from 2006 to 2009 indicated that WNV had not become established by the end of 2009. Several species of competent mosquito vectors were collected at very low abundance on the island, including the important mainland vectors Culex tarsalis and Culex quinquefasciatus. However, the island was generally cooler than areas of mainland California that experienced intense WNV transmission, and these lower temperatures may have reduced the likelihood of WNV becoming established because they do not support efficient virus replication in mosquitoes. A vaccination program was initiated in 2008 to create a rescue population of ISSJ that would be more likely to survive a catastrophic outbreak. To further that goal, we recommend managers vaccinate >100 ISSJ each year as part of ongoing research and monitoring efforts.
Birds; Mosquito(es); Surveillance; West Nile; Conservation
Due to error-prone replication, RNA viruses exist within hosts as a heterogeneous population of non-identical, but related viral variants. These populations may undergo bottlenecks during transmission that stochastically reduce variability leading to fitness declines. Such bottlenecks have been documented for several single-host RNA viruses, but their role in the population biology of obligate two-host viruses such as arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) in vivo is unclear, but of central importance in understanding arbovirus persistence and emergence. Therefore, we tracked the composition of West Nile virus (WNV; Flaviviridae, Flavivirus) populations during infection of the vector mosquito, Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus to determine whether WNV populations undergo bottlenecks during transmission by this host. Quantitative, qualitative and phylogenetic analyses of WNV sequences in mosquito midguts, hemolymph and saliva failed to document reductions in genetic diversity during mosquito infection. Further, migration analysis of individual viral variants revealed that while there was some evidence of compartmentalization, anatomical barriers do not impose genetic bottlenecks on WNV populations. Together, these data suggest that the complexity of WNV populations are not significantly diminished during the extrinsic incubation period of mosquitoes.
Adult mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) were collected in 2007 and tested for specific viruses, including West Nile virus, as part of the ongoing arbovirus surveillance efforts in the state of Iowa. A subset of these mosquitoes (6,061 individuals in 340 pools) was further tested by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using flavivirus universal primers. Of the 211 pools of Culex pipiens (L.) tested, 50 were positive. One of 51 pools of Culex tarsalis Coquillet was also positive. The flavivirus minimum infection rates (expressed as the number of positive mosquito pools per 1,000 mosquitoes tested) for Cx. pipiens and Cx. tarsalis were 10.3 and 1.2, respectively. Flavivirus RNA was not detected in Aedes triseriatus (Say) (52 pools), Culex erraticus (Dyar & Knab) (25 pools), or Culex territans Walker (one pool). Sequence analysis of all RT-PCR products revealed that the mosquitoes had been infected with Culex flavivirus (CxFV), an insect-specific virus previously isolated in Japan, Indonesia, Texas, Mexico, Guatemala and Trinidad. The complete genome of one isolate was sequenced, as were the envelope protein genes of eight other isolates. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that CxFV isolates from the United States (Iowa and Texas) are more closely related to CxFV isolates from Asia than those from Mexico, Guatemala, and Trinidad.
Flavivirus; Culex flavivirus; mosquito; insect; surveillance
West Nile virus (WNV) is transmitted to vertebrate hosts primarily by infected Culex mosquitoes. Transmission of arboviruses by the bite of infected mosquitoes can potentiate infection in hosts compared to viral infection by needle inoculation. Here we examined the effect of mosquito transmission on WNV infection and systematically investigated multiple factors that differ between mosquito infection and needle inoculation of WNV. We found that mice infected with WNV through the bite of a single infected Culex tarsalis mosquito exhibited 5- to 10-fold-higher viremia and tissue titers at 24 and 48 h postinoculation and faster neuroinvasion than mice given a median mosquito-inoculated dose of WNV (105 PFU) by needle. Mosquito-induced enhancement was not due to differences in inoculation location, because additional intravenous inoculation of WNV did not enhance viremia or tissue titers. Inoculation of WNV into a location where uninfected mosquitoes had fed resulted in enhanced viremia and tissue titers in mice similar to those in mice infected by a single infected mosquito bite, suggesting that differences in where virus is deposited in the skin and in the virus particle itself were not responsible for the enhanced early infection in mosquito-infected mice. In addition, inoculation of mice with WNV mixed with salivary gland extract (SGE) led to higher viremia, demonstrating that mosquito saliva is the major cause of mosquito-induced enhancement. Enhanced viremia was not observed when SGE was inoculated at a distal site, suggesting that SGE enhances WNV replication by exerting a local effect. Furthermore, enhancement of WNV infection still occurred in mice with antibodies against mosquito saliva. In conclusion, saliva from C. tarsalis is responsible for enhancement of early WNV infection in vertebrate hosts.
Ticks are mites specialized in acquiring blood from vertebrates as their sole source of food and are important disease vectors to humans and animals. Among the specializations required for this peculiar diet, ticks evolved a sophisticated salivary potion that can disarm their host’s hemostasis, inflammation, and immune reactions. Previous transcriptome analysis of tick salivary proteins has revealed many new protein families indicative of fast evolution, possibly due to host immune pressure. The hard ticks (family Ixodidae) are further divided into two basal groups, of which the Metastriata have 11 genera. While salivary transcriptomes and proteomes have been described for some of these genera, no tick of the genus Hyalomma has been studied so far. The analysis of 2,084 expressed sequence tags (EST) from a salivary gland cDNA library allowed an exploration of the proteome of this tick species by matching peptide ions derived from MS/MS experiments to this data set. We additionally compared these MS/MS derived peptide sequences against the proteins from the bovine host, finding many host proteins in the salivary glands of this tick. This annotated data set can assist the discovery of new targets for anti-tick vaccines as well as help to identify pharmacologically active proteins.
Tick; hematophagy; salivary glands; sialome
Olfactory conditioning of mosquitoes may have important implications for vector-pathogen-host dynamics. If mosquitoes learn about specific host attributes associated with pathogen infection, it may help to explain the heterogeneity of biting and disease patterns observed in the field. Sugar-feeding is a requirement for survival in both male and female mosquitoes. It provides a starting point for learning research in mosquitoes that avoids the confounding factors associated with the observer being a potential blood-host and has the capability to address certain areas of close-range mosquito learning behavior that have not previously been described. This study was designed to investigate the ability of the southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus Say to associate odor with a sugar-meal with emphasis on important experimental considerations of mosquito age (1.2 d old and 3–5 d old), sex (male and female), source (laboratory and wild), and the time between conditioning and testing (<5 min, 1 hr, 2.5 hr, 5 hr, 10 hr, and 24 hr). Mosquitoes were individually conditioned to an odor across these different experimental conditions. Details of the conditioning protocol are presented as well as the use of binary logistic regression to analyze the complex dataset generated from this experimental design. The results suggest that each of the experimental factors may be important in different ways. Both the source of the mosquitoes and sex of the mosquitoes had significant effects on conditioned responses. The largest effect on conditioning was observed in the lack of positive response following conditioning for females aged 3–5 d derived from a long established colony. Overall, this study provides a method for conditioning experiments involving individual mosquitoes at close range and provides for future discussion of the relevance and broader questions that can be asked of olfactory conditioning in mosquitoes.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus, known as the brown dog tick, is a common ectoparasite of domestic dogs and can be found worldwide. R.sanguineus is recognized as the primary vector of the etiological agent of canine monocytic ehrlichiosis and canine babesiosis. Here we present the first description of a R. sanguineus salivary gland transcriptome by the production and analysis of 2,034 expressed sequence tags (EST) from two cDNA libraries, one consctructed using mRNA from dissected salivary glands from female ticks fed for 3-5 days (early to mid library, RsSGL1) and the another from ticks fed for 5 days (mid library, RsSGL2), identifying 1,024 clusters of related sequences.
Based on sequence similarities to nine different databases, we identified transcripts of genes that were further categorized according to function. The category of putative housekeeping genes contained ~56% of the sequences and had on average 2.49 ESTs per cluster, the secreted protein category contained 26.6% of the ESTs and had 2.47 EST's/clusters, while 15.3% of the ESTs, mostly singletons, were not classifiable, and were annotated as "unknown function". The secreted category included genes that coded for lipocalins, proteases inhibitors, disintegrins, metalloproteases, immunomodulatory and antiinflammatory proteins, as Evasins and Da-p36, as well as basic-tail and 18.3 kDa proteins, cement proteins, mucins, defensins and antimicrobial peptides. Comparison of the abundance of ESTs from similar contigs of the two salivary gland cDNA libraries allowed the identification of differentially expressed genes, such as genes coding for Evasins and a thrombin inhibitor, which were over expressed in the RsSGL1 (early to mid library) versus RsSGL2 (mid library), indicating their role in inhibition of inflammation at the tick feeding site from the very beginning of the blood meal. Conversely, sequences related to cement (64P), which function has been correlated with tick attachment, was largely expressed in the mid library.
Our survey provided an insight into the R. sanguineus sialotranscriptome, which can assist the discovery of new targets for anti-tick vaccines, as well as help to identify pharmacologically active proteins.
West Nile virus (WNV) is transmitted to vertebrate hosts by mosquitoes as they take a blood meal. The amount of WNV inoculated by mosquitoes as they feed on a live host is not known. Previous estimates of the amount of WNV inoculated by mosquitoes (101.2–104.3 PFU) were based on in vitro assays that do not allow mosquitoes to probe or feed naturally. Here, we developed an in vivo assay to determine the amount of WNV inoculated by mosquitoes as they probe and feed on peripheral tissues of a mouse or chick. Using our assay, we recovered approximately one-third of a known amount of virus inoculated into mouse tissues. Accounting for unrecovered virus, mean and median doses of WNV inoculated by four mosquito species were 104.3 PFU and 105.0 PFU for Culex tarsalis, 105.9 PFU and 106.1 PFU for Cx. pipiens, 104.7 PFU and 104.7 PFU for Aedes japonicus, and 103.6 PFU and 103.4 PFU for Ae. triseriatus. In a direct comparison, in vivo estimates of the viral dose inoculated by Cx. tarsalis were approximately 600 times greater than estimates obtained by an in vitro capillary tube transmission assay. Virus did not disperse rapidly, as >99% of the virus was recovered from the section fed or probed upon by the mosquito. Furthermore, 76% (22/29) of mosquitoes inoculated a small amount of virus (∼102 PFU) directly into the blood while feeding. Direct introduction of virus into the blood may alter viral tropism, lead to earlier development of viremia, and cause low rates of infection in co-feeding mosquitoes. Our data demonstrate that mosquitoes inoculate high doses of WNV extravascularly and low doses intravascularly while probing and feeding on a live host. Accurate estimates of the viral dose inoculated by mosquitoes are critical in order to administer appropriate inoculation doses to animals in vaccine, host competence, and pathogenesis studies.
Since it was first introduced into the United States in 1999, West Nile virus (WNV) has caused significant disease in humans, horses, and other animals. WNV is transmitted to humans and other vertebrate hosts by female mosquitoes as they take a blood meal. Currently, the amount of virus inoculated by mosquitoes while feeding on live hosts is unknown, and accurate estimates are critical so that appropriate challenge doses can be used in vaccine and viral pathogenesis studies. Here, we use a novel technique to determine the dose of WNV inoculated by mosquitoes as they probe and feed on the peripheral tissues of live animals. We found that mosquitoes inoculate high doses of virus into host tissues; these doses are 10 to 1,000 times higher than previous estimates obtained with assays that do not allow mosquitoes to probe or feed naturally. We also found that mosquitoes inoculate low doses of virus directly into the blood while blood feeding. Direct introduction of virus into the blood may alter viral tropism and cause low rates of infection in co-feeding mosquitoes. Our study provides new insights into the transmission of an emerging viral pathogen and the interaction of virus with its mosquito vector and vertebrate host.
West Nile virus (WNV) exists in nature as a genetically diverse population of competing genomes. This high genetic diversity and concomitant adaptive plasticity has facilitated the rapid adaptation of WNV to North American transmission cycles and contributed to its explosive spread throughout the New World. WNV is maintained in nature in a transmission cycle between mosquitoes and birds, with intrahost genetic diversity highest in mosquitoes. The mechanistic basis for this increase in genetic diversity in mosquitoes is poorly understood. To determine whether the high mutational diversity of WNV in mosquitoes is driven by RNA interference (RNAi), we characterized the RNAi response to WNV in the midguts of orally exposed Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus using high-throughput, massively parallel sequencing and estimated viral genetic diversity. Our data demonstrate that WNV infection in orally exposed vector mosquitoes induces the RNAi pathway and that regions of the WNV genome that are more intensely targeted by RNAi are more likely to contain point mutations compared to weakly targeted regions. These results suggest that, under natural conditions, positive selection of WNV within mosquitoes is stronger in regions highly targeted by the host RNAi response. Further, they provide a mechanistic basis for the relative importance of mosquitoes in driving WNV diversification.
West Nile virus (WNV) was introduced into New York state in 1999 and has since spread across the Americas. It is transmitted in nature between adult female mosquitoes and birds and occasionally infects humans and horses. Within the host, WNV exists as a diverse assortment of closely related mutants. WNV populations within mosquitoes are more complex genetically than are those within birds. The reasons for this discrepancy are unknown, but may be related to the host's innate antivirus response. We demonstrate that WNV is targeted by RNA interference, a highly sequence-specific pathway in the mosquito. Further, we present data that correlates the intensity of this targeting with virus mutation under natural conditions. These results provide a mechanistic explanation for the increasead complexity of WNV populations in mosquitoes: the RNAi response creates an intracellular environment where rare genotypes are favored. In addition, our results suggest that genetically diverse WNV populations may have an advantage over less diverse populations because they present a more complex target for the RNAi response. Finally, these data suggest that WNV, and possibly other viruses with high mutation rates, may escape an engineered antivirus intervention that is highly sequence-specific.
1. St. Louis virus has been successfully transmitted in the laboratory by the following 9 species of mosquitoes from 3 genera: Culex tarsalis, Culex pipiens, Culex coronator, Aedes lateralis, Aedes taeniorhynchus, Aedes vexans, Aedes nigromaculis, Theobaldia incidens, and Theobaldia inornata. 2. Though transmission has not been demonstrated, survival of the virus for more than a few days was shown to occur in Culex quinquefasciatus, Culex stigmatosoma, Psorophora ciliata, and Anopheles maculipennis freeborni. 3. In experiments with Culex tarsalis, infection occurred from feeding on chickens and ducks which had been previously inoculated by the subcutaneous route. After an incubation period these mosquitoes infected other chickens and virus was in turn demonstrated in the blood of these. This is interpreted as proof that fowl may serve as reservoirs of virus in nature. Since mosquitoes have been repeatedly found naturally infected with St. Louis virus and epidemiologic evidence supports their incrimination, their rôle as vectors is now established. The fully incriminated species is Culex tarsalis.
Wildlife disease investigations may help reduce zoonotic infections.
West Nile virus (WNV)–associated deaths of American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) chicks have been recognized at various nesting colonies in the United States since 2002. We evaluated American white pelican nesting colonies in Sheridan County, Montana, USA, for an association between WNV-positive pelican carcasses and human West Nile neuroinvasive disease. Persons in counties hosting affected colonies had a 5× higher risk for disease than those in counties with unaffected colonies. We also investigated WNV infection and blood meal source among mosquitoes and pelican tissue type for greatest WNV detection efficacy in carcasses. WNV-infected Culex tarsalis mosquitoes were detected and blood-engorged Cx. tarsalis contained pelican DNA. Viral loads and detection consistency among pelican tissues were greatest in feather pulp, brain, heart, and skin. Given the risks posed to wildlife and human health, coordinated efforts among wildlife and public health authorities to monitor these pelican colonies for WNV activity are potentially useful.
West Nile virus; zoonoses; American white pelicans; Pelecanus erythrorhynchos; surveillance; epidemiology; viruses; Montana; research
In a previous study, a new flavivirus genome sequence was identified in Culex tarsalis mosquitoes obtained in Alberta, Canada and was shown to be genetically related to but distinct from members of the insect-specific flaviviruses. Nonstructural protein 5–encoding sequences amplified from Cx. tarsalis pools from western Canada have shown a high similarity to genome sequences of novel flaviviruses isolated from mosquitoes in California and Colorado. Despite wide distribution of this virus, designated Calbertado virus, strains demonstrate a high degree of nonstructural protein 5 nucleotide (> 90%) and amino acid (> 97%) identity. The ecology and geographic range of Calbertado virus warrants further study because it may potentially influence transmission of mosquito-borne flaviviruses, including important human pathogens such as West Nile and Saint Louis encephalitis viruses.
The mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus poses a significant threat to human and veterinary health as a primary vector of West Nile virus (WNV), the filarial worm Wuchereria bancrofti, and an avian malaria parasite. Comparative phylogenomics revealed an expanded canonical C. quinquefasciatus immune gene repertoire compared with those of Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae. Transcriptomic analysis of C. quinquefasciatus genes responsive to WNV, W. bancrofti and non-native bacteria facilitated an unprecedented meta-analysis of 25 vector-pathogen interactions involving arboviruses, filarial worms, bacteria and malaria parasites, revealing common and distinct responses to these pathogen types in three mosquito genera. Our findings provide support for the hypothesis that mosquito-borne pathogens have evolved to evade innate immune responses in three vector mosquito species of major medical importance.