(SBM, Dengue and other arboviruses)
The Maringer Lab is working to understand the fundamental processes that determine how mosquito-borne viruses are transmitted between humans, alongside studies into the mechanisms that drive the global emergence and spread of new mosquito-borne diseases. We are most interested in the flavivirus dengue virus, which is the most significant arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) affecting humans, with an estimated 400 million infections across the globe each year. We are also studying the related Zika virus to understand how this virus emerged so rapidly across the Americas. Our research focuses on the mosquito species Aedes aegypti (the ‘yellow fever mosquito’) and Aedes albopictus (the ‘Asian tiger mosquito’), which are distributed globally across the tropics and subtropics and are vectors for dengue virus and Zika virus as well as other important arboviruses that infect humans (for example yellow fever virus and chikungunya virus). Because many mosquito-borne viruses lack effective vaccines or antiviral therapies, targeting their mosquito vectors remains one of our most important strategies for preventing human disease.
Our approach is to use cutting-edge ‘omics’ technologies to profile global responses of mosquito cells to viral infection. For example, we use ‘proteomics’ methods to measure every protein in a given sample, which can tell us how mosquito cells respond when infected with dengue or Zika virus (e.g. does the immune system activate?), and whether these viruses alter the cellular environment for their own benefit (e.g. do they steal the cell’s nutrients?). We follow up on the big data sets generated using gene editing technologies (CRISPR-Cas9) and molecular tools developed in our lab. By comparing related and unrelated arboviruses in this way, we can pinpoint virus-specific and broadly-applicable molecular mechanisms that drive the transmission, emergence and global spread of flaviviruses like dengue virus and Zika virus. This information will facilitate the development of vector-targeted interventions to reduce the global burden of arboviral disease.