Semliki Forest virus strongly reduces mosquito host defence signaling
The Alphavirus genus within the Togaviridae family contains several important mosquito-borne arboviruses. Other than the antiviral activity of RNAi, relatively little is known about alphavirus interactions with insect cell defences. Here we show that Semliki Forest virus (SFV) infection of Aedes albopictus-derived U4.4 mosquito cells reduces cellular gene expression. Activation prior to SFV infection of pathways involving STAT/IMD, but not Toll signaling reduced subsequent virus gene expression and RNA levels. These pathways are therefore not only able to mediate protective responses against bacteria but also arboviruses. However, SFV infection of mosquito cells did not result in activation of any of these pathways and suppressed their subsequent activation by other stimuli.