Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 37319296
Link to DOI – 10.1371/journal.ppat.1011440
PLoS Pathog 2023 Jun; 19(6): e1011440
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play critical regulatory roles in various cellular and metabolic processes in mosquitoes and all other organisms studied thus far. In particular, their involvement in essential processes such as reproduction makes them potential targets for the development of novel pest control approaches. However, their function in mosquito biology remains largely unexplored. To elucidate the role of lncRNAs in mosquitoes’ reproduction and vector competence for arboviruses, we have implemented a computational and experimental pipeline to mine, screen, and characterize lncRNAs related to these two biological processes. Through analysis of publicly available Zika virus (ZIKV) infection-regulated Aedes aegypti transcriptomes, at least six lncRNAs were identified as being significantly upregulated in response to infection in various mosquito tissues. The roles of these ZIKV-regulated lncRNAs (designated Zinc1, Zinc2, Zinc3, Zinc9, Zinc10 and Zinc22), were further investigated by dsRNA-mediated silencing studies. Our results show that silencing of Zinc1, Zinc2, and Zinc22 renders mosquitoes significantly less permissive to ZIKV infection, while silencing of Zinc22 also reduces fecundity, indicating a potential role for Zinc22 in trade-offs between vector competence and reproduction. We also found that silencing of Zinc9 significantly increases fecundity but has no effect on ZIKV infection, suggesting that Zinc9 may be a negative regulator of oviposition. Our work demonstrates that some lncRNAs play host factor roles by facilitating viral infection in mosquitoes. We also show that lncRNAs can influence both mosquito reproduction and permissiveness to virus infection, two biological systems with important roles in mosquito vectorial capacity.