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Recent advances in virus detection strategies and deep sequencing technologies have enabled the identification of a multitude of new viruses that persistently infect mosquitoes but do not infect vertebrates. These are usually referred to as insect-specific viruses (ISVs). These novel viruses have generated considerable interest in their modes of transmission, persistence in mosquito populations, the mechanisms that restrict their host range to mosquitoes, and their interactions with pathogens transmissible by the same mosquito. In this article, we discuss studies in our laboratory and others that demonstrate that many ISVs are efficiently transmitted directly from the female mosquito to their progeny via infected eggs, and, moreover, that persistent infection of mosquito cell cultures or whole mosquitoes with ISVs can restrict subsequent infection, replication, and transmission of some mosquito-borne viral pathogens. This suggests that some ISVs may act as natural regulators of arboviral transmission. We also discuss viral and host factors that may be responsible for their host restriction.
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