The Sindbis virus mutant NE2G216 retains PE2 in place of E2 in its virion structure. NE2G216 is a host-range mutant that replicates with near-normal kinetics in vertebrate cells, but displays severely restricted growth in cultured mosquito cells (C6/36) due to defects in the virus maturation process. In this study we tested the hypothesis that the host-range phenotype of NE2G216 was linked to the differences in carbohydrate-processing phenotypes between vertebrate and arthropod cells. Arthropod cell-derived glycoproteins are distinguishable from those synthesized in vertebrate cells by the absence of complex- and hybrid-type -linked oligosaccharides. To test our hypothesis we compared the growth of the wild-type virus, TRSB, NE2G216 and three PE2-containing, C6/36 cell-adapted variants, in vertebrate cells treated with 1-deoxymannojirimycin (1-dMM). 1-dMM inhibits the Golgi α-mannosidase I enzyme and limits oligosaccharide processing to high-mannose forms (ManGlcNAc). The growth of TRSB was not restricted by the action of 1-dMM; however, NE2G216 was restricted in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, the growth of each PE2-containing, C6/36 cell-adapted mutant was enhanced by low concentrations of 1-dMM (up to 1500%) and was only slightly affected by the higher concentrations. These results demonstrate that virion maturation functions of NE2G216 are sensitive to the structure of -linked oligosaccharides, and indicate that the carbohydrate-processing phenotypes of the host cell can influence viral host-range and function as a selective pressure in alphavirus evolution.


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