Chinese scientists have identified a mosquito salivary protein as a key factor in facilitating virus transmission, providing a new target for the prevention and control of mosquito-borne disease.
Previous studies have shown that mosquito saliva can facilitate viral transmission, but salivary proteins with related functions have not been effectively identified.
Researchers from Tsinghua University, Shenzhen Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other institutions conducted a series of screenings on 32 mosquito salivary proteins and found that the protein AaVA-1 promotes dengue and Zika virus infection and AaVA-1-deficient mosquitoes reduce Zika virus transmission.
This study also showed that AaVA-1 promotes virus transmission by activation of autophagy in host immune cells.
Cheng Gong, the leading researcher, said the study provides insight into the mechanism of saliva-aided viral transmission.
The development of a vaccine targeting the AaVA-1 protein may help reduce Zika virus transmission, Cheng said.
The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.