One novel approach being investigated for dengue prevention focuses upon the understanding of the genetic basis of vector competence of Ae. aegypti for dengue virus. We first demonstrated that RNA interference (RNAi) constitutes a robust innate immune response to arboviruses in cultured Ae. albopictus mosquito cells (Adelman et al. 2002; Olson et al. 2002; Sanchez-Vargas et al. 2004). This had provocative implications for engineering resistance to dengue virus transmission in vector populations. We then proceeded to determine if RNA could be a determinant of the vector competent phenotype for arboviruses and if this knowledge could be exploited to engineer Ae. aegypti that are resistant to dengue virus infection. The ultimate goal is to use this knowledge to manipulate vector populations to interrupt dengue virus transmission.
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