1887

Abstract

Understanding the potential for host range shifts and expansions of RNA viruses is critical to predicting the evolutionary and epidemiological paths of these pathogens. As arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) experience frequent spillover from their amplification cycles and are generalists by nature, they are likely to experience a relatively high frequency of success in a range of host environments. Despite this, the potential for host expansion, the genetic correlates of adaptation to novel environments and the costs of such adaptations in originally competent hosts are still not characterized fully for arboviruses. In the studies presented here, we utilized experimental evolution of St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV; family , genus ) in the line of tick cells to model adaptation to a novel invertebrate host. Our results demonstrated that levels of adaptation and costs in alternate hosts are highly variable among lineages, but also that significant fitness increases in tick cells are achievable with only modest change in consensus genetic sequence. In addition, although accumulation of diversity may at times buffer against phenotypic costs within the SLEV swarm, an increased proportion of variants with an impaired capacity to infect and spread on vertebrate cell culture accumulated with tick cell passage. Isolation and characterization of a subset of these variants implicates the NS3 gene as an important host range determinant for SLEV.

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2014-06-01
2019-10-18
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