The 3′ noncoding region (3′ NCR) of flaviviruses contains secondary and tertiary structures essential for virus replication. Previous studies of yellow fever virus (YFV) and dengue virus have found that modifications to the 3′ NCR are sometimes associated with attenuation in vertebrate and/or mosquito hosts. The 3′ NCRs of 117 isolates of South American YFV have been examined, and major deletions and/or duplications of conserved RNA structures have been identified in several wild-type isolates. Nineteen isolates (designated YF-XL isolates) from Brazil, Trinidad, and Venezuela, dating from 1973 to 2001, exhibited a 216-nucleotide (nt) duplication, yielding a tandem repeat of conserved hairpin, stem-loop, dumbbell, and pseudoknot structures. YF-XL isolates were found exclusively within one subclade of South American genotype I YFV. One Brazilian isolate exhibited, in addition to the 216-nt duplication, a deletion of a 40-nt repeated hairpin (RYF) motif (YF-XL-ΔRYF). To investigate the biological significance of these 3′ NCR rearrangements, YF-XL-ΔRYF and YF-XL isolates, as well as other South American YFV isolates, were evaluated for three phenotypes: growth kinetics in cell culture, neuroinvasiveness in suckling mice, and ability to replicate and produce disseminated infections in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. YF-XL-ΔRYF and YF-XL isolates showed growth kinetics and neuroinvasive characteristics comparable to those of typical South American YFV isolates, and mosquito infectivity trials demonstrated that both types of 3′ NCR variants were capable of replication and dissemination in a laboratory-adapted colony of A. aegypti.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science