Productive arbovirus infections require mechanisms to suppress or circumvent the cellular RNA interference (RNAi) pathway, a major antiviral response in mosquitoes. In this study, we demonstrate that two flaviviruses, Dengue virus and Kunjin virus, significantly repress siRNA-mediated RNAi in infected human cells as well as during infection of the mosquito vector Culex quinquefasciatus. Arthropod-borne flaviviruses generate a small structured non-coding RNA from the viral 3' UTR referred to as sfRNA. Analysis of infections with a mutant Kunjin virus that is unable to generate appreciable amounts of the major sfRNA species indicated that RNAi suppression was associated with the generation of the non-coding sfRNA. Co-immunoprecipitation of sfRNA with RNAi mediators Dicer and Ago2 suggest a model for RNAi suppression. Collectively, these data help to establish a clear role for sfRNA in RNAi suppression and adds to the emerging impact of viral long non-coding RNAs in modulating aspects of anti-viral immune processes.
Keywords: Arbovirus; Dengue virus; Flavivirus; Kunjin virus; Mosquito; RNA interference; SfRNA.
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