Anopheles mosquitoes are efficient vectors of human malaria, but they are the primary vector of just one arbovirus, O’nyong nyong virus (ONNV). Consequently Anopheles-virus interactions have been relatively unexamined. It is puzzling that almost all arbovirus transmission is mediated by Aedes and its relatives while Anopheles transmit just a single virus. One hypothesis is that antiviral mechanisms are more efficient in Anopheles than Aedes, but ONNV can circumvent them. Here, we combined empirical data and bioinformatic analysis to generate a high-value set of Anopheles candidate genes likely involved in host-virus interactions. Many of the candidate genes are unannotated. We screened our panel of genes through gene silencing and identified both proviral and antiviral factors in Anopheles mosquitos. So far, the many genes tested have shown an effect on ONNV replication. For instance, the silencing of the unannotated gene AGAP00570 limited 80% of viral replication suggesting its proviral role in the ONNV-Anopheles cells system. Similarly, silencing of the Leucine-Rich repeat IMmune 4 (LRIM4) reduced the viral replication in 78%. On the contrary, preliminary data in another leucine-rich repeat protein, the APL1C, indicates the antiviral activity of this gene in Anopheles cells. ONNV is an emergent virus in Africa with epidemic potential, and these results reveal the host vector factors that influence mosquito-ONNV infection.

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

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