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Experimental Infection with and Maintenance of Cell Fusing Agent Virus (Flavivirus) in Aedes aegypti

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  • 1 Programa de Estudio y Control de Enfermedades Tropicales (PECET), Sede de Investigacion Universitaria (SIU), Universidad de Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia;
  • | 2 Grupo de Investigacion en Sistematica Molecular (GSM), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellin, Colombia;
  • | 3 Department of Pathology, Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas

During the past two decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the recognition and characterization of novel insect-specific flaviviruses (ISFVs). Some of these agents are closely related to important mosquito-borne flavivirus pathogens. Results of experimental studies suggest that mosquitoes and mosquito cell cultures infected with some ISFVs are refractory to superinfection with related flavivirus pathogens; and it has been proposed that ISFVs potentially could be used to alter the vector competence of mosquitoes and reduce transmission of specific flavivirus pathogens, such as dengue, West Nile, or Zika viruses. In order for an ISFV to be used in such a control strategy, the virus would have to be vertically transmitted at a high rate in the target vector population to insure its continued maintenance. This study compared the vertical transmission rates of an ISFV, cell fusing agent virus (CFAV), in two Aedes aegypti colonies: one naturally infected with CFAV and the other experimentally infected but previously free of the virus. CFAV filial infection rates in progeny of female mosquitoes from both colonies were > 90% after two generations of selection, indicating the feasibility of introducing an ISFV into a mosquito population. This and other considerations for evaluating the feasibility of using ISFVs as an arbovirus control strategy are discussed.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Robert B. Tesh, Department of Pathology, Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555-0609. E-mail: rtesh@utmb.edu

Financial support: This work was funded in part by grant R24AI120942 from the National Institutes of Health. MAC was supported by a Programa de Doctorados Nacionales-Colciencias (Convocatoria 567) Ph.D. fellowship from the Colombian government.

Authors’ addresses: Maria Angelica Contreras-Gutierrez, Sede de Investigacion Universitaria (SIU), Universidad de Antioquia, Medellin, Columbia, E-mail: maria.contreras@pecet-colombia.org. Hilda Guzman, Saravanan Thangamani, Nikolaos Vasilakis, and Robert B. Tesh, Department of Pathology, Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Texas Medical Branch, Houston, TX, E-mails: hguzman@utmb.edu, sathanga@utmb.edu, nivasila@utmb.edu, and rtesh@utmb.edu.

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