1887

Abstract

The fidelity of flaviviruses is thought to be tightly regulated for optimal fitness within and between hosts. West Nile virus (WNV) high-fidelity (HiFi) mutations V793I and G806R within the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, and low-fidelity (LoFi) mutation T248I within the methyltransferase, were previously shown to attenuate infectivity and replicative fitness in mosquitoes and (CXT) cells but not in mammalian cells. We hypothesized that fidelity alterations would modify adaptation and maintenance in a host-specific manner. To test this hypothesis, wild-type (WT), HiFi (V793I/G806R) and LoFi (T248I) variants were sequentially passaged eight times in avian (PDE) or mosquito cells, or alternately between the two. Initial characterization confirmed that fidelity mutants are attenuated in mosquito, but not avian, cells. Deep sequencing revealed mutations unique to both cell lines and fidelity mutants, including ENV G1378A, a mutation associated with avian cell adaptation. To characterize maintenance and adaptation, viral outputs were monitored throughout passaging and viral fitness was assessed. The results indicate that fidelity mutants can at times recover fitness during mosquito cell passage, but remain attenuated relative to WT. Despite similar initial fitness, LoFi mutants were impaired during sequential passage in avian cells. Conversely, HiFi mutants passaged in avian cells showed increased adaptation, suggesting that increased fidelity may be advantageous in avian hosts. Although some adaptation occurred with individual mutants, the output titres of fidelity mutants were on average lower and were often lost during host switching. These data confirm that arbovirus fidelity is likely fine-tuned to maximize survival in disparate hosts.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Alexander T. Ciota , National Institutes of Health , (Award AI146856)
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2020-02-18
2020-06-03
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