Comparison of dengue virus type 2-specific small RNAs from RNA interference-competent and -incompetent mosquito cells

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2010 Oct 26;4(10):e848. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000848.


The exogenous RNA interference (RNAi) pathway is an important antiviral defense against arboviruses in mosquitoes, and virus-specific small interfering (si)RNAs are key components of this pathway. Understanding the biogenesis of siRNAs in mosquitoes could have important ramifications in using RNAi to control arbovirus transmission. Using deep sequencing technology, we characterized dengue virus type 2 (DENV2)-specific small RNAs produced during infection of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and A. aegypti Aag2 cell cultures and compared them to those produced in the C6/36 Aedes albopictus cell line. We show that the size and mixed polarity of virus-specific small RNAs from DENV-infected A. aegypti cells indicate that they are products of Dicer-2 (Dcr2) cleavage of long dsRNA, whereas C6/36 cells generate DENV2-specific small RNAs that are longer and predominantly positive polarity, suggesting that they originate from a different small RNA pathway. Examination of virus-specific small RNAs after infection of the two mosquito cell lines with the insect-only flavivirus cell fusing agent virus (CFAV) corroborated these findings. An in vitro assay also showed that Aag2 A. aegypti cells are capable of siRNA production, while C6/36 A. albopictus cells exhibit inefficient Dcr2 cleavage of long dsRNA. Defective expression or function of Dcr2, the key initiator of the RNAi pathway, might explain the comparatively robust growth of arthropod-borne viruses in the C6/36 cell line, which has been used frequently as a surrogate for studying molecular interactions between arboviruses and cells of their mosquito hosts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / immunology
  • Aedes / virology*
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dengue Virus / genetics
  • Dengue Virus / immunology*
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / immunology
  • Ribonuclease III / metabolism


  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Ribonuclease III