“The findings indicate that pupal cuticle protein is a potential target for developing inhibitors or antibodies to control dengue virus infection,” said professor J Sivaraman, from the Department of Biological Sciences under the NUS Faculty of Science.
“These insights contribute to understanding the molecular dynamics of mosquito-virus interactions and open avenues for novel antiviral strategies,” he added.
Previous research has found that cuticle proteins from Aedes aegypti play a part in blocking infection of mosquito-borne viruses, such as Zika virus and West Nile virus, by interacting with the proteins on the surface of these viruses.
To begin exploring the role of the cuticle protein in inhibiting dengue virus infection, the NUS scientists employed a technique known as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy which uses a powerful magnetic field to analyse the molecular structure of the cuticle protein, and found that the protein takes on a disordered structure.
Further examination of the molecular interactions between the cuticle protein and dengue virus prompted the NUS team to suggest that it blocks dengue virus infection. The next step for these researchers is to identify how pupal cuticle proteins prevent dengue virus infection in mosquitoes and mammals, and to explore the possibility of pupal cuticle proteins as a new antiviral strategy not only against dengue virus but also in other flaviviruses like West Nile virus and yellow fever virus.