Wolbachia uses host microRNAs to manipulate host gene expression and facilitate colonization of the dengue vector Aedes aegypti

Mazhur Hussain, Francesca Frentiu, L Moreira, Scott Leslie O'Neill, Sussan Asgari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

151 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The obligate endosymbiont Wolbachia pipientis is found in a wide range of invertebrates where they are best known for manipulating host reproduction. Recent studies have shown that Wolbachia also can modulate the lifespan of host insects and interfere with the development of human pathogens in mosquito vectors. Despite considerable study, very little is known about the molecular interactions between Wolbachia and its hosts that might mediate these effects. Using microarrays, we show that the microRNA (miRNA) profile of the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is significantly altered by the wMelPop-CLA strain of W. pipientis. We found that a host miRNA (aae-miR-2940) is induced after Wolbachia infection in both mosquitoes and cell lines. One target of aae-miR-2940 is the Ae. aegypti metalloprotease gene. Interestingly, expression of the target gene was induced after Wolbachia infection, ectopic expression of the miRNA independent of Wolbachia, or transfection of an artificial mimic of the miRNA into mosquito cells. We also confirmed the interaction of aae-miR-2940 with the target sequences using GFP as a reporter gene. Silencing of the metalloprotease gene in both Wolbachia-infected cells and adult mosquitoes led to a significant reduction in Wolbachia density, as did inhibition of the miRNA in cells. These results indicate that manipulation of the mosquito metalloprotease gene via aae-miR-2940 is crucial for efficient maintenance of the endosymbiont. This report shows how Wolbachia alters the host miRNA profile and provides insight into the mechanisms of host manipulation used by this widespread endosymbiont.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9250 - 9255
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume108
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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