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Genetics. 2001 Apr; 157(4): 1403–1412.
PMCID: PMC1461603

Differential evolution of eastern equine encephalitis virus populations in response to host cell type.


Arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) cycle between hosts in two widely separated taxonomic groups, vertebrate amplifying hosts and invertebrate vectors, both of which may separately or in concert shape the course of arbovirus evolution. To elucidate the selective pressures associated with virus replication within each portion of this two-host life cycle, the effects of host type on the growth characteristics of the New World alphavirus, eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus, were investigated. Multiple lineages of an ancestral EEE virus stock were repeatedly transferred through either mosquito or avian cells or in alternating passages between these two cell types. When assayed in both cell types, derived single host lineages exhibited significant differences in infectivity, growth pattern, plaque morphology, and total virus yield, demonstrating that this virus is capable of host-specific evolution. Virus lineages grown in alternation between the two cell types expressed intermediate phenotypes consistent with dual adaptation to both cellular environments. Both insect-adapted and alternated lineages greatly increased in their ability to infect insect cells. These results indicate that different selective pressures exist for virus replication within each portion of the two-host life cycle, and that alternation of hosts selects for virus populations well adapted for replication in both host systems.

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Selected References

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