Molecular mechanism of IMD inhibition by Dengue Virus in the mosquito Aedes Aegypti, and implications for transmission and emergence
I work in the Maringer Lab, and we are trying to understand the fundamental processes that determine how mosquito-borne viruses are transmitted between humans. I am most interested in Dengue virus, a leading cause of illness and death in the subtropics and tropics, with an estimated 400 million infections across the globe each year.
My research focuses on the mosquito (the 'yellow fever mosquito'), which is found throughout the tropics and subtropics and transmits Dengue virus, as well as other important viruses that cause disease in humans like Zika virus, yellow fever virus and Chikungunya virus. Many of these viruses lack effective vaccines or treatments, so targeting their mosquito vectors remains one of our most important strategies for preventing human disease. However, we still don't really know what immune response the mosquito can make to virus infection, how this effects the growth and spread of the virus, and if these viruses are able to fight back against this immune response.
Our approach is to use cutting-edge technologies to profile global responses of mosquito cells to viral infection. For example, we can use proteomics methods to measure every protein in a given sample. This can tell us how mosquito cells respond when infected with Dengue virus, and whether these viruses alter the cellular environment for their own benefit. We follow up on the big data sets generated using gene editing technologies (CRISPR-Cas9) and molecular tools developed in our lab. In this way, we can pinpoint mechanisms that drive the transmission, emergence and global spread of viruses like Dengue virus. This information will facilitate the development of mosquito-targeted interventions to help fight viruses like Dengue virus.