Nav: Home

Protection from Zika virus may lie in a protein derived from mosquitoes

March 11, 2019

New Haven, Conn. -- By targeting a protein found in the saliva of mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus, Yale investigators reduced Zika infection in mice. The finding demonstrates how researchers might develop a vaccine against Zika and similar mosquito-borne viruses, the study authors said.

The research was published in Nature Microbiology.

There is no current vaccine or therapy for Zika virus infection, which caused substantial illness, including birth defects, during the 2015 outbreak that impacted over a million people in the Americas. One source of a potential vaccine strategy is the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries and transmits the virus. A Yale research team recently focused on proteins found in the saliva of these mosquitoes and how they might affect Zika transmission.

Led by the Section Chief for Infectious Diseases at Yale, Erol Fikrig, the team isolated antibodies from the blood of mice bitten by mosquitoes. They performed a genomic screen to identify mosquito proteins and tested the proteins for their effect in cell culture, as well as in infected mice models, against Zika virus. They pinpointed one protein, AgBR1, that exacerbated Zika infection in mice.

In further experiments, the researchers examined how blocking AgBR1 might influence Zika infection. They developed an AgBR1 antiserum and gave it to mice, which were then bitten by Zika-virus infected mosquitoes. The team observed that the antiserum reduced the level of Zika virus in the animals over time and that it also provided partial protection from full-blown disease and death.

The study shows that antibodies to the mosquito protein can protect animals from Zika virus infection. While more research is needed, these results could lead to a vaccine. "The ultimate goal would be to develop a vaccine that's effective against the virus by targeting a salivary protein," Fikrig said.

Fikrig and his team plan to study additional mosquito proteins to see whether they have a similar effect on infection. If the approach of targeting proteins is confirmed, it could inform the development of vaccines against other mosquito-borne viruses of the same family of flaviviruses, such as those that cause dengue and West Nile disease.

"It might be a new strategy," Fikrig said. "If this protein was important for other flaviviruses, it could be important for other infections."
-end-
Other study authors are Ryuta Uraki, Andrew K. Hastings, Alejandro Marin-Lopez, Tomokazu Sumida, Takehiro Takahashi, Jonathan R. Grover, Akiko Iwasaki, David Hafler, and Ruth R. Montgomery.

This work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, by grants from the National Institutes of Health, and by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Overseas Research Fellowships.

Citation: Nature Microbiology

Contact: Ziba Kashef 203-436-9317 or ziba.kashef@yale.edu

Yale University

Related Mosquitoes Articles:

In urban Baltimore, poor neighborhoods have more mosquitoes
A new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology reports that in Baltimore, Maryland, neighborhoods with high levels of residential abandonment are hotspots for tiger mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus).
Researchers use light to manipulate mosquitoes
Scientists at the University of Notre Dame have found that exposure to just 10 minutes of light at night suppresses biting and manipulates flight behavior in the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, the major vector for transmission of malaria in Africa.
Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus could simultaneously transmit other viruses
A new study led by Colorado State University found that Aedes aegypti, the primary mosquito that carries Zika virus, might also transmit chikungunya and dengue viruses with one bite.
Insecticide-induced leg loss does not eliminate biting in mosquitoes
Researchers at LSTM have found that mosquitoes that lose multiple legs after contact with insecticide may still be able to spread malaria and lay eggs.
New study sheds light on how mosquitoes wing it
The unique mechanisms involved in mosquito flight have been shared for the first time in a new Oxford University collaboration, which could inform future aerodynamic innovations, including tiny scale flying tech.
For female mosquitoes, two sets of odor sensors are better than one
A team of Vanderbilt biologists has found that the malaria mosquito has a second complete set of odor receptors that are specially tuned to human scents.
Common bacterium may help control disease-bearing mosquitoes
Genes from a common bacterium can be harnessed to sterilize male insects, a tool that can potentially control populations of both disease-bearing mosquitoes and agricultural pests, researchers at Yale University and Vanderbilt University report in related studies published Feb.
Scientists opened a new chapter in the study of malaria mosquitoes
In December 2016, the American Journal of Vector Ecology published two articles by Yuri Novikov, a scientist at the TSU Biological Institute devoted to the study of ecology and the distribution one of the species of malaria mosquito of the maculipennis complex and its laboratory cultivation.
Blocking hormone activity in mosquitoes could help reduce malaria spread
Disruption of hormone signaling in mosquitoes may reduce their ability to transmit the parasite that causes malaria, according to a new study published in PLOS Pathogens.
Experimental insecticide explodes mosquitoes, not honeybees
In a new study, Vanderbilt pharmacologist Jerod Denton, Ph.D., Ohio State entomologist Peter Piermarini, Ph.D., and colleagues report an experimental molecule that inhibits kidney function in mosquitoes and thus might provide a new way to control the deadliest animal on Earth.

Related Mosquitoes Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".