West Nile virus envelope protein glycosylation is required for efficient viral transmission by Culex vectors

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Abstract

Many, but not all, strains of West Nile virus (WNV) contain a single N-linked glycosylation site on their envelope (E) proteins. Previous studies have shown that E-glycosylated strains are more neuroinvasive in mice than non-glycosylated strains. E protein glycosylation also appears to play a role in attachment and entry of WNV into host cells in vitro; however, studies examining how E protein glycosylation affects the interactions of WNV with its mosquito vectors in vivo have not yet been performed. We mutated the E protein glycosylation site from NYS to IYS in a previously described full-length clone of the NY99 genotype of WNV (WT), resulting in a virus that lacked the glycan at aa154. WNV-N154I replicated less efficiently than WNV-WT in Culex mosquito tissues, although the extent of the decrease was greater in Cx. pipiens than in Cx. tarsalis. Following peroral infection, mosquitoes infected with WNV-N154I were less likely to transmit virus than those infected with WNV-WT. Interestingly, all but one of the mosquitoes infected with WNV-N154I transmitted a revertant virus, suggesting that there is strong selective pressure toward E protein glycosylation. Together these data suggest that loss of the glycan at aa154 on the WNV E protein can severely restrict viral spread in the mosquito vector. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Moudy, R. M., Zhang, B., Shi, P. Y., & Kramer, L. D. (2009). West Nile virus envelope protein glycosylation is required for efficient viral transmission by Culex vectors. Virology, 387(1), 222–228. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2009.01.038

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