Vectors can play an important role in the spreading of infectious diseases. Common vectors are blood feeding arthropods (e.g. mosquitos, ticks, fleas), which can transmit bacteria, viruses or parasites. Members of the Flaviviridae family, genus Flavivirus are classic example of viral pathogens transmitted by mosquitos or ticks. A prominent example is the yellow fever virus. Those viruses not only replicate in their mammalian hosts, but also in the transmitting vector, which is also a bona fide host. Viruses always depend on host factors for their replication. The identification of such host factors can elucidate molecular mechanisms behind infections. This knowledge can then help in understanding the molecular basics of vector capacity of different species.
Main research topics
The Laboratory for molecular Vector-Pathogen Interaction aims to identify host factors in mosquitos that transmit flaviviruses. These factors are identified in insect cell cultures. Molecular techniques are used to silence or amplify targeted genes in cells and analyse the resulting effects on infections. These studies are complemented with reverse genetic systems to identify viral factors that are essential for the infection of insect cells.