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Neurotropism and behavioral changes associated with Zika infection in the vector Aedes aegypti

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-04-25, 00:00 authored by Julie Gaburro, Asim BhattiAsim Bhatti, Jenni Harper, Isabelle Jeanne, Megan Dearnley, Diane Green, Saeid NahavandiSaeid Nahavandi, Prasad N Paradkar, Jean-Bernard Duchemin
Understanding Zika virus infection dynamics is essential, as its recent emergence revealed possible devastating neuropathologies in humans, thus causing a major threat to public health worldwide. Recent research allowed breakthrough in our understanding of the virus and host pathogenesis; however, little is known on its impact on its main vector, Aedes aegypti. Here we show how Zika virus targets Aedes aegypti's neurons and induces changes in its behavior. Results are compared to dengue virus, another flavivirus, which triggers a different pattern of behavioral changes. We used microelectrode array technology to record electrical spiking activity of mosquito primary neurons post infections and discovered that only Zika virus causes an increase in spiking activity of the neuronal network. Confocal microscopy also revealed an increase in synapse connections for Zika virus-infected neuronal networks. Interestingly, the results also showed that mosquito responds to infection by overexpressing glutamate regulatory genes while maintaining virus levels. This neuro-excitation, possibly via glutamate, could contribute to the observed behavioral changes in Zika virus-infected Aedes aegypti females. This study reveals the importance of virus-vector interaction in arbovirus neurotropism, in humans and vector. However, it appears that the consequences differ in the two hosts, with neuropathology in human host, while behavioral changes in the mosquito vector that may be advantageous to the virus.



Emerging microbes and infections





Article number



Nature Publishing Group


United States





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, The Authors