Dengue viruses (DENs) are the wildest transmitted mosquito-borne pathogens throughout tropical and sub-tropical regions worldwide. Infection with DENs can cause severe flu-like illness and potentially fatal hemorrhagic fever. Although RNA interference triggered by long-length dsRNA was considered a potent antiviral pathway in the mosquito, only limited studies of the value of small interfering RNA (siRNA) have been conducted.
A 21 nt siRNA targeting the membrane glycoprotein precursor gene of DEN-1 was synthesized and transfected into mosquito C6/36 cells followed by challenge with DEN. The stability of the siRNA in cells was monitored by flow cytometry. The antiviral effect of siRNA was evaluated by measurement of cell survival rate using the MTT method and viral RNA was quantitated with real-time RT-PCR. The presence of cells containing siRNA at 0.25, 1, 3, 5, 7 days after transfection were 66.0%, 52.1%, 32.0%, 13.5% and 8.9%, respectively. After 7 days incubation with DEN, there was reduced cytopathic effect, increased cell survival rate (76.9 ± 4.5% vs 23.6 ± 14.6%) and reduced viral RNA copies (Ct value 19.91 ± 0.63 vs 14.56 ± 0.39) detected in transfected C6/36 cells.
Our data showed that synthetic siRNA against the DEN-1 membrane glycoprotein precursor gene effectively inhibited DEN-1 viral RNA replication and increased C6/36 cell survival rate. siRNA may offer a potential new strategy for prevention and treatment of DEN infection.