Characterizing putative cellular mediators of West Nile virus infections in bird and mosquito tissues
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West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne virus that infects many bird species. Examination of American crows and house sparrows from the Winnipeg region confirmed that WNV levels were at least 1000 times higher in crows than sparrows. No species differences were observed in the level of transcripts encoding a putative WNV receptor, β3 integrin. Differences in mosquito vector competence can be due to differences in the ability of WNV to enter mosquito cells. Using RNAi techniques, the role of two clathrin coat adaptor proteins in facilitating WNV infections in mosquito cells was examined, and the findings suggest that these proteins may act as resistance factors in Aedes aegypti, and as susceptibility factors in Culex quinquefasciatus. These findings will contribute to our understanding of the molecular basis of vector competence in different mosquitoes, and may help us determine whether other species could serve as potential vectors of this health-threatening virus.