SAAG-4 is a novel mosquito salivary protein that programmes host CD4+ T cells to express IL-4

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Abstract

Mosquitoes represent the most important vector for transmitting pathogens that cause human disease. Central to pathogen transmission is the ability to divert the host immune system away from Th1 and towards Th2 responsiveness. Identification of the mosquito factor(s) critical for programming Th2 responsiveness should therefore lead to strategies to neutralize their function and thus prevent disease transmission. In the current study, we used a TCR transgenic adoptive transfer system to screen gene products present in the saliva of the mosquito Aedes aegypti for their ability to programme CD4 T cells to express the signature Th2 cytokine IL-4. The clone SAAG-4 encodes a secreted protein with a predicted size of 20 kDa whose function has previously been uncharacterized. Notably, SAAG-4 reduced host CD4 T cell expression of the signature Th1 cytokine IFN-γ while simultaneously increasing expression of IL-4. SAAG-4 is therefore the first identified mosquito factor that can programme Th2 effector CD4 T cell differentiation.

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