Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Doria Bowers

Second Advisor

Dr. David Waddell

Third Advisor

Dr. Frank Smith



Sindbis virus (SINV), a member of the genus Alphavirus, is the protype virus used to gain insight into other disease-causing Alphaviruses. As a mosquito-borne-virus (arbovirus), SINV transit in adult female mosquitoes includes attachment to the gut lumen and entry into the midgut cells, followed by replication and dissemination into the hemolymph through yet unknown specific mechanisms. Free-mated adult females, aged day 5-7, were fed a viremic bovine blood suspension via blood sausage at a final SINV titer at 107 PFU/ml. Midguts from fully engorged mosquitoes were dissected on day 5 and 7 post-bloodmeal and further examined by immunolabeling using FMRFamide antibody against enteroendocrine cells (EC). The results were investigated via confocal microscopy and distribution of SINV and ECs were documented. Oral infection of mosquitoes with SINV-TaV-eGFP led to GFP expression along the basal aspect of the posterior midgut (PMG) epithelial monolayer as early as day 5 p.i., persistent infection and dissemination of the virus was observed on day 30 p.i. following viremic blood feeding. ECs were observed along the entire length of the midgut with majority of ECs concentrated in the posterior midgut region. Additionally, our results demonstrated that SINV could indeed infect ECs and the accumulations of SINV associated GFP fluorescence coincided with these cells. Here we propose that ECs, positioned along the basal plasma membrane of the PMG, are involved in SINV dissemination pathway. Due to unique roles that ECs have in the exocytosis of secretory granules from the MG, these cells might serve as a gateway for virus entry into the host hemolymph. These findings suggest that midgut ECs are integral to arbovirus infection, dissemination, and availability for transmission.