Long Pine Key virus (LPKV) and Lammi virus are insect-specific flaviviruses that phylogenetically affiliate with dual-host flaviviruses. The goal of this study was to provide insight into the genetic determinants that condition this host range restriction. Chimeras were initially created by replacing select regions of the Zika virus genome, including the premembrane and envelope protein (prM-E) genes, with the corresponding regions of the LPKV genome. Of the four chimeras produced, one (the prM-E swap) yielded virus that replicated in mosquito cells. Another chimeric virus with a mosquito replication-competent phenotype was created by inserting the prM-E genes of Lammi virus into a Zika virus genetic background. Vertebrate cells did not support the replication of either chimeric virus although trace to modest amounts of viral antigen were produced, consistent with suboptimal viral entry. These data suggest that dual-host affiliated insect-specific flaviviruses cannot replicate in vertebrate cells due to entry and post-translational restrictions.
- Host range
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