The flavivirus dengue virus (DENV) is the most significant arthropod borne virus (arbovirus) of humans, causing serious morbidity and mortality, with nearly half of the world’s population at risk of infection. Due to a lack of antivirals and limited vaccine options, vector control remains a vital defence against dengue disease. The mosquito Aedes aegypti is the major vector for DENV, and understanding mosquito immune responses and how DENV may evade them is critical. We have shown that DENV-2 can inhibit the exogenous induction of immune deficiency (IMD) signalling by classical immune stimuli. Therefore, we aimed to identify DENV antagonists of the IMD pathway, and define the molecular virus and host determinants of IMD antagonism in a well characterised Ae. aegypti derived cell line, Aag2. Each DENV protein was expressed individually in Aag2 cells and tested for their ability to block IMD signalling induced by exogenous stimuli. This screen identified NS4A as a potential antagonist of the IMD pathway. Further, we have found that the N-terminus of NS4A is responsible for this inhibition. The antagonism of IMD signalling is specific to flaviviruses transmitted by a mosquito vector, illustrating the importance of both the IMD pathway for mosquito immunity and the antagonism of this pathway by DENV. By enhancing our understanding of how DENV evades the mosquito immune response at a molecular level, we will gain insight into virus-host interactions constraining arbovirus transmission and emergence, which may be exploited for developing transmission-incompetent vectors to reduce the burden of dengue disease.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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