Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne member of the genus Flavivirus that has emerged since 2007 to cause outbreaks in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and most recently, in the Americas. Here, we used an isolate history as well as genetic and phylogenetic analyses to characterize three low-passage isolates representing African (ArD 41525) and Asian (CPC- 0740, SV0127-14) lineages to investigate the potential phenotypic differences in vitro and in vivo. The African isolate displayed a large plaque phenotype (∼3-4 mm) on Vero and HEK-293 cells, whereas the Asian isolates either exhibited a small plaque phenotype (∼1-2 mm) or did not produce any plaques. In multistep replication kinetics in nine different vertebrate and insect cell lines, the African isolate consistently displayed faster replication kinetics and yielded ∼10- to 10,000-fold higher peak virus titers (infectious or RNA copies) compared with the Asian isolates. Oral exposure of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with the African isolate yielded higher infection and dissemination rates compared with the Asian isolates. Infection of Ifnar1-/- mice with the African isolate produced a uniformly fatal disease, whereas infection with the Asian isolates produced either a delay in time-to-death or a significantly lower mortality rate. Last, the African isolate was > 10,000-fold more virulent than the Asian isolates in an interferon type I antibody blockade mouse model. These data demonstrate substantial phenotypic differences between low-passage African and Asian isolates both in vitro and in vivo and warrant further investigation. They also highlight the need for basic characterization of ZIKV isolates, as the utilization of the uncharacterized isolates could have consequences for animal model and therapeutic/vaccine development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases