Dengue is arguably one of the most important arthropod-borne viral infections. It has been estimated that at least 2.5 billion people live in dengue-endemic areas and are at daily risk of infection (WHO). The increasing incidence in morbidity and mortality in the tropics and subtropics are only adding to the public health impact throughout the world. The innate immune system of arthropods has been shown to aggressively fight pathogen infections through the production of antimicrobial peptides, phagocytosis, encapsulation, and melanization . This research project will contribute to our understanding of the mosquito innate immune defenses against dengue virus infection. Specifically, this research project will provide insightful information on the relative importance of the fat body and hemocytes in the response to dengue virus infection and contribute towards the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms that underlie an immune response-dependent midgut infection barrier. Lastly, the assessment of tripartite interactions (endogenous bacteria – dengue virus- mosquito) on dengue transmission will provide us with insights on factors that might determine transmissibility.
From the stand of public health, the knowledge gathered from this research will greatly contribute to our understanding of dengue transmission and other important arboviral pathogens of great public health significance, such as the West Nile virus and the yellow fever virus. This, in turn, will allow us to better direct or design novel anti-dengue control strategies.