miRNA genes of an invasive vector mosquito, Aedes albopictus.
Gu J., Hu W., Wu J., Zheng P., Chen M., James AA., Chen X., Tu Z.
Aedes albopictus, a vector of Dengue and Chikungunya viruses, is a robust invasive species in both tropical and temperate environments. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression and biological processes including embryonic development, innate immunity and infection. While a number of miRNAs have been discovered in some mosquitoes, no comprehensive effort has been made to characterize them from different developmental stages from a single species. Systematic analysis of miRNAs in Ae. albopictus will improve our understanding of its basic biology and inform novel strategies to prevent virus transmission. Between 10-14 million Illumina sequencing reads per sample were obtained from embryos, larvae, pupae, adult males, sugar-fed and blood-fed adult females. A total of 119 miRNA genes represented by 215 miRNA or miRNA star (miRNA*) sequences were identified, 15 of which are novel. Eleven, two, and two of the newly-discovered miRNA genes appear specific to Aedes, Culicinae, and Culicidae, respectively. A number of miRNAs accumulate predominantly in one or two developmental stages and the large number that showed differences in abundance following a blood meal likely are important in blood-induced mosquito biology. Gene Ontology (GO) analysis of the targets of all Ae. albopictus miRNAs provides a useful starting point for the study of their functions in mosquitoes. This study is the first systematic analysis of miRNAs based on deep-sequencing of small RNA samples of all developmental stages of a mosquito species. A number of miRNAs are related to specific physiological states, most notably, pre- and post-blood feeding. The distribution of lineage-specific miRNAs is consistent with mosquito phylogeny and the presence of a number of Aedes-specific miRNAs likely reflects the divergence between the Aedes and Culex genera.