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Alpha-mannosidase-2 modulates arbovirus infection in a pathogen- and Wolbachia-specific manner in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

By Nadya Urakova, Renuka E Joseph, Allyn Huntsinger, Vanessa M. Macias, Matthew J Jones, Leah T Sigle, Ming Li, Omar S Akbari, Zhiyong Xi, Konstantinos Lymperopoulos, Richard T Sayre, Elizabeth A. McGraw, Jason L Rasgon

Posted 19 Mar 2022
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2022.03.18.484928

Multiple Wolbachia strains can block pathogen infection, replication, and/or transmission in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes under both laboratory and field conditions. However, Wolbachia effects on pathogens can be highly variable across systems and the factors governing this variability are not well understood. It is increasingly clear that the mosquito host is not a passive player in which Wolbachia governs pathogen transmission phenotypes; rather, the genetics of the host can significantly modulate Wolbachia-mediated pathogen blocking. Specifically, previous work linked variation in Wolbachia pathogen blocking to polymorphisms in the mosquito alpha-mannosidase 2 (Man2) gene. Here we use CRISPR-Cas9 mutagenesis to functionally test this association. We developed Man2 knockouts and examined effects on both Wolbachia and virus levels, using both dengue virus (DENV; Flaviviridae) and Mayaro virus (MAYV; Togaviridae). Wolbachia titers were significantly elevated in Man2 knockout (KO) mosquitoes, but there were complex interactions with virus infection and replication. In Wolbachia-uninfected mosquitoes, the Man2 KO mutation was associated with decreased DENV titers, but in a Wolbachia-infected background, the Man2 KO mutation significantly modulated virus blocking. In contrast, the Man2 KO mutation significantly increased MAYV replication in Wolbachia-uninfected mosquitoes and did not affect Wolbachia-mediated virus blocking. These results demonstrate that Man2 modulates arbovirus infection in Ae. aegypti mosquitoes in a pathogen- and Wolbachia-specific manner, and that Wolbachia-mediated pathogen blocking is a complex phenotype dependent on the mosquito host genotype and the pathogen. These results have significant impact for the design and use of Wolbachia-based strategies to control vector-borne pathogens.

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