Researchers from University of South Carolina and Central Michigan University have identified a protein that is essential for the spread of dengue infection in mosquitoes. Blocking this protein could be the strategy for developing dengue vaccines.
There is currently no approved specific treatment or vaccine for dengue fever, and an estimated two billion people are at risk for being bitten by Aedes mosquitoes and infected with the dengue virus (DENV).
"These results further our understanding of DENV pathogenesis in the mosquito vector and highlight a potential target protein for the creation of a DENV transmission-blocking vaccine to break the host-vector transmission cycle," the researchers said.
Having previously identified a number of genes, the researchers now focused on one of them -- which they termed as CRVP379 -- that codes for a putative cysteine-rich venom protein.
The researchers reported that CRVP379 is required during DENV infection in mosquito cells and in live mosquitoes, and that there is a direct correlation between the amount of CRVP379 expressed in the mosquito gut (where infection initiates) and the level of DENV infection in the gut and in whole mosquitoes.
They showed that CRVP379 interacts with a protein called prohibitin that is a putative DENV receptor in mosquitoes.
When the researchers fed Aedes mosquitoes antibodies able to recognize CRVP379, potentially blocking the interaction of the protein with either DENV or prohibitin, they found that this inhibits DENV infection of the mosquitoes.
Moreover, the scientists have been able to detect antibodies against CRVP379 in human blood samples, demonstrating that the protein is able to elicit an immune response in humans. The study was published in the journal PLOS Pathogens