The alternating host cycle and persistent vector infection may constrain the evolution of arboviruses. To test this hypothesis, eastern equine encephalitis virus was passaged in BHK or mosquito cells, as well as in alternating (both) host cell passages. High and low multiplicities were used to examine the effect of defective interfering particles. Clonal BHK and persistent mosquito cell infections were also evaluated. Fitness was measured with one-step growth curves and competition assays, and mutations were evaluated by nucleotide sequencing and RNA fingerprinting. All passages and assays were done at 32°C to eliminate temperature as a selection factor. Viruses passaged in either cell type alone exhibited fitness declines in the bypassed cells, while high-multiplicity and clonal passages caused fitness declines in both types of cells. Bypassed cell fitness losses were mosquito and vertebrate specific and were not restricted to individual cell lines. Fitness increases occurred in the cell line used for single-host-adaptation passages and in both cells for alternately passaged viruses. Surprisingly, single-host-cell passage increased fitness in that cell type no more than alternating passages. However, single-host-cell adaptation resulted in more mutations than alternating cell passages. Mosquito cell adaptation invariably resulted in replacement of the stop codon in nsP3 with arginine or cysteine. In one case, BHK cell adaptation resulted in a 238-nucleotide deletion in the 3' untranslated region. Many nonsynonymous substitutions were shared among more than one BHK or mosquito cell passage series, suggesting positive Darwinian selection. Our results suggest that alternating host transmission cycles constrain the evolutionary rates of arboviruses but not their fitness for either host alone.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science