Eilat virus, a unique alphavirus with host range restricted to insects by RNA replication.

Institute for Human Infections and Immunity and Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 08/2012; 109(36):14622-7. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1204787109
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Most alphaviruses and many other arboviruses are mosquito-borne and exhibit a broad host range, infecting many different vertebrates including birds, rodents, equids, humans, and nonhuman primates. Consequently, they can be propagated in most vertebrate and insect cell cultures. This ability of arboviruses to infect arthropods and vertebrates is usually essential for their maintenance in nature. However, several flaviviruses have recently been described that infect mosquitoes but not vertebrates, although the mechanism of their host restriction has not been determined. Here we describe a unique alphavirus, Eilat virus (EILV), isolated from a pool of Anopheles coustani mosquitoes from the Negev desert of Israel. Phylogenetic analyses placed EILV as a sister to the Western equine encephalitis antigenic complex within the main clade of mosquito-borne alphaviruses. Electron microscopy revealed that, like other alphaviruses, EILV virions were spherical, 70 nm in diameter, and budded from the plasma membrane of mosquito cells in culture. EILV readily infected a variety of insect cells with little overt cytopathic effect. However, in contrast to typical mosquito-borne alphaviruses, EILV could not infect mammalian or avian cell lines, and viral as well as RNA replication could not be detected at 37 °C or 28 °C. Evolutionarily, these findings suggest that EILV lost its ability to infect vertebrate cells. Thus, EILV seems to be mosquito-specific and represents a previously undescribed complex within the genus Alphavirus. Reverse genetic studies of EILV may facilitate the discovery of determinants of alphavirus host range that mediate disease emergence.

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    ABSTRACT: Background Most alphaviruses are arthropod-borne and utilize mosquitoes as vectors for transmission to susceptible vertebrate hosts. This ability to infect both mosquitoes and vertebrates is essential for maintenance of most alphaviruses in nature. A recently characterized alphavirus, Eilat virus (EILV), isolated from a pool of Anopheles coustani s.I. is unable to replicate in vertebrate cell lines. The EILV host range restriction occurs at both attachment/entry as well as genomic RNA replication levels. Here we investigated the mosquito vector range of EILV in species encompassing three genera that are responsible for maintenance of other alphaviruses in nature.Materials and methodsSusceptibility studies were performed in four mosquito species: Aedes albopictus, A. aegypti, Anopheles gambiae, and Culex quinquefasciatus via intrathoracic and oral routes utilizing EILV and EILV expressing red fluorescent protein (¿eRFP) clones. EILV-eRFP was injected at 107 PFU/mL to visualize replication in various mosquito organs at 7 days post-infection. Mosquitoes were also injected with EILV at 104-101 PFU/mosquito and virus replication was measured via plaque assays at day 7 post-infection. Lastly, mosquitoes were provided bloodmeals containing EILV-eRFP at doses of 109, 107, 105 PFU/mL, and infection and dissemination rates were determined at 14 days post-infection.ResultsAll four species were susceptible via the intrathoracic route; however, replication was 10¿100 fold less than typical for most alphaviruses, and infection was limited to midgut-associated muscle tissue and salivary glands. A. albopictus was refractory to oral infection, while A. gambiae and C. quinquefasciatus were susceptible only at 109 PFU/mL dose. In contrast, A. aegypti was susceptible at both 109 and 107 PFU/mL doses, with body infection rates of 78% and 63%, and dissemination rates of 26% and 8%, respectively.Conclusions The exclusion of vertebrates in its maintenance cycle may have facilitated the adaptation of EILV to a single mosquito host. As a consequence, EILV displays a narrow vector range in mosquito species responsible for the maintenance of other alphaviruses in nature.
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