Agua Salud Alphavirus Infection, Dissemination and Transmission in Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are competent vectors for many important arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses). In addition to arboviruses, insect-specific viruses (ISV) have also been discovered in mosquitoes. ISVs are viruses that replicate in insect hosts but are unable to infect and replicate in vertebrates. They have been shown to interfere with arbovirus replication in some cases. Despite the increase in studies on ISV-arbovirus interactions, ISV interactions with their hosts and how they are maintained in nature are still not well understood. In the present study, we investigated the infection and dissemination of the Agua Salud alphavirus (ASALV) in the important mosquito vector Aedes aegypti through different infection routes (per oral infection, intrathoracic injection) and its transmission. We show here that ASALV infects the female Ae. aegypti and replicates when mosquitoes are infected intrathoracically or orally. ASALV disseminated to different tissues, including the midgut, salivary glands and ovaries. However, we observed a higher virus load in the brain than in the salivary glands and carcasses, suggesting a tropism towards brain tissues. Our results show that ASALV is transmitted horizontally during adult and larval stages, although we did not observe vertical transmission. Understanding ISV infection and dissemination dynamics in Ae. aegypti and their transmission routes could help the use of ISVs as an arbovirus control strategy in the future.

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