In Europe, tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) and louping ill virus (LIV) are two flaviviruses both transmitted by the tick Ixodes ricinus. While the mechanisms of viral replication and transmission in this vector are incompletely understood, they are presumed to be largely governed by protein-protein interactions established between viruses and cells.

To elucidate the molecular determinants involved in vector competence, we have mapped the network of protein-protein interactions established between viral proteins of both TBEV and LIV and tick proteins encoded by a cDNA library of , by using yeast two-hybrid methodology. Twenty-two cellular partners from have been identified and all evidenced to interact with both viruses. Upon functional annotation, some of these tick proteins seem to be involved in such biological processes as the immune response or ribosomal maturation. To gain insight into the role of each tick protein in viral replication, the impact of gene silencing will be assessed by dsRNA knockdown. In parallel, cell lines have been persistently infected with TBEV or LIV and the level of expression of selected antiviral effectors monitored over time, in an effort to characterize the antiviral response of this arthropod.

This work represents the first description of the protein-protein interaction network for TBEV, LIV and . Certain tick partners may well represent molecular determinants of vector competence of for TBEV and LIV and potentially other flaviviruses, which we will ascertain by silencing of selected tick partners.

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

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