The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, is a competent vector for the majority of arboviruses. The mosquito innate immune response is a primary determinant for arthropod-borne virus transmission, and the midgut is the first barrier to pathogen transmission. Mosquito antiviral immunity is
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The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus
, is a competent vector for the majority of arboviruses. The mosquito innate immune response is a primary determinant for arthropod-borne virus transmission, and the midgut is the first barrier to pathogen transmission. Mosquito antiviral immunity is primarily mediated by the small interfering RNA pathway. However, the roles that the P-element induced wimpy testis (PIWI)-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway play in antiviral immunity in Ae. albopictus
and its midgut still need further exploration. This study aimed to explore the profiles of both viral-derived and host-originated piRNAs in the whole body and midgut infected with Dengue virus 2 (DENV-2) in Ae. albopictus
, and to elucidate gene expression profile differences of the PIWI protein family between adult females and their midguts. A deep sequencing-based method was used to identify and analyze small non-coding RNAs, especially the piRNA profiles in DENV-2-infected Ae. albopictus
and its midgut. The top-ranked, differentially-expressed piRNAs were further validated using Stem-loop qRT-PCR. Bioinformatics analyses and reverse-transcription PCR (RT-PCR) methods were used to detect PIWI protein family members, and their expression profiles. DENV-2 derived piRNAs (vpiRNA, 24–30 nts) were observed in both infected Ae. albopictus
and its midgut; however, only vpiRNA in the whole-body library had a weak preference for adenine at position 10 (10A) in the sense molecules as a feature of secondary piRNA. These vpiRNAs were not equally distributed, instead they were derived from a few specific regions of the genome, especially several hot spots, and displayed an obvious positive strand bias. We refer to the differentially expressed host piRNAs after DENV infection as virus-induced host endogenous piRNAs (vepiRNAs). However, we found that vepiRNAs were abundant in mosquito whole-body tissue, but deficient in the midgut. A total of eleven PIWI family genes were identified in Ae. albopictus
; however, only AalPiwi5–7 and AalAgo3(1–2) were readily detected in the midgut. The characteristics of piRNAs in DENV-2-infected Ae. albopictus
adult females were similar to those previously described for flavivirus infections but were not observed in the midgut. The reduced levels of vepiRNAs and incomplete expression of PIWI pathway genes in midgut samples from DENV-2-infected Ae. albopictus
suggests that viral regulation of host piRNAs may not be an important factor in the midgut.