Characterization of an insect-specific flavivirus (OCFVPT) co-isolated from Ochlerotatus caspius collected in southern Portugal along with a putative new Negev-like virus
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We describe the isolation and characterization of an insect-specific flavivirus (ISF) from Ochlerotatus caspius (Pallas, 1771) mosquitoes collected in southern Portugal. The RNA genome of this virus, tentatively designated OCFVPT, for O. caspius flavivirus from Portugal, encodes a polyprotein showing all the features expected for a flavivirus. As frequently observed for ISF, the viral genomes seems to encode a putative Fairly Interesting Flavivirus ORF (FIFO)-like product, the synthesis of which would occur as a result of a −1 translation frameshift event. OCFVPT was isolated in the C6/36 Stegomyia albopicta (= Aedes albopictus) cell line where it replicates rapidly, but failed to replicate in Vero cells in common with other ISFs. Unlike some of the latter, however, the OCFVPT genome does not seem to be integrated in the mosquito cells we tested. Phylogenetic analyses based on partial ISF NS5 nucleotide sequences placed OCFVPT among recently published viral strains documented from mosquitoes collected in the Iberian Peninsula, while analyses of ORF/E/NS3/or NS5 amino acid sequences cluster OCFVPT with HANKV (Hanko virus), an ISF recently isolated from O. caspius mosquitoes collected in Finland. Taking into account the genetic relatedness with this virus, OCFVPT is not expected to be overtly cytopathic to C6/36 cells. The cytopathic effects associated with its presence in culture supernatants are postulated to be the result of the replication of a co-isolated putative new Negev-like virus.
KeywordsFlaviviruses Negeviruses Mosquitoes Phylogenetic analysis Cytopathic effect
This work was partially supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Ministério da Educação e Ciência) through UPMM funds.
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