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Aedes aegypti AgBR1 antibodies modulate early Zika virus infection of mice


A recent epidemic of Zika virus in the Americas, affecting well over a million people, caused substantial mortality and morbidity, including Guillain–Barre syndrome, microcephaly and other fetal developmental defects1,2. Preventive and therapeutic measures that specifically target the virus are not readily available. The transmission of Zika virus is predominantly mosquito-borne, and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes serve as a key vector for Zika virus3. Here, to identify salivary factors that modulate mosquito-borne Zika virus infection, we focused on antigenic proteins in mice that were repeatedly bitten by mosquitoes and developed antibodies against salivary proteins. Using a yeast surface display screen, we identified five antigenic A. aegypti salivary proteins in mice. Antiserum against one of these five proteins—A. aegypti bacteria-responsive protein 1 (AgBR1)—suppressed early inflammatory responses in the skin of mice bitten by Zika-virus-infected mosquitoes. AgBR1 antiserum also partially protected mice from lethal mosquito-borne—but not needle-injected—Zika virus infection. These data suggest that AgBR1 is a target for the prevention of mosquito-transmitted Zika virus infection.

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Fig. 1: AgBR1 identified as an antigenic protein in mice that modulates host responses in vitro and in vivo.
Fig. 2: AgBR1 antiserum protects mice from mosquito-borne Zika virus infection.
Fig. 3: AgBR1 antiserum suppresses neutrophil infiltration at the mosquito-bite site.
Fig. 4: AgBR1 antiserum modulates host responses at the mosquito-bite site.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors on request. The RNA-seq data have been deposited in the Gene Expression Omnibus under the accession number GSE125194.


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We thank S. Shresta at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology for originally providing us with the AG129 mouse strain. We also thank S. Ren, Y.-M. Chuang, S. Householder, S. Stanley, H. Sproch and B. V. Wyk for supporting experiments and analysing data. The imaging mass cytometry was conducted at the Yale CyTOF facility and the RNA-seq service was conducted at the Yale Stem Cell Center Genomics Core facility, which was supported by the Connecticut Regenerative Medicine Research Fund and the Li Ka Shing Foundation. This work was supported by NIH grant nos AI089992 and AI127865, and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Overseas Research Fellowships. E.F. and A.I. are investigators with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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Authors and Affiliations



R.U. and E.F. designed the experiments. R.U. performed the majority of the experiments and analysed the data. A.K.H., A.M.-L. and J.R.G. assisted in the experiments with mosquitoes. R.U. and T.S. performed the analysis of the RNA-seq. T.T. performed the histopathological analyses. A.I., D.A.H. and R.R.M. contributed experimental suggestions and strengthened the writing of the manuscript. R.U. and E.F wrote the manuscript. All authors reviewed, critiqued and provided comments on the text.

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Correspondence to Erol Fikrig.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figures 1–12, Supplementary Tables 1–3 and Supplementary Table 6.

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Table 4

List of upregulated genes at the bite site of mice treated with control (naïve) serum.

Supplementary Table 5

List of GSEA-enriched pathway at bite sites in mice treated with control serum using hallmark gene sets (

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Uraki, R., Hastings, A.K., Marin-Lopez, A. et al. Aedes aegypti AgBR1 antibodies modulate early Zika virus infection of mice. Nat Microbiol 4, 948–955 (2019).

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