Discovery of flavivirus-derived endogenous viral elements in Anopheles mosquito genomes supports the existence of Anopheles-associated insect-specific flaviviruses

Sebastian Lequime*, Louis Lambrechts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
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The Flavivirus genus encompasses several arboviruses of public health significance such as dengue, yellow fever, and Zika viruses. It also includes insect-specific flaviviruses (ISFs) that are only capable of infecting insect hosts. The vast majority of mosquito-infecting flaviviruses have been associated with mosquito species of the Aedes and Culex genera in the Culicinae subfamily, which also includes most arbovirus vectors. Mosquitoes of the Anophelinae subfamily are not considered significant arbovirus vectors; however, flaviviruses have occasionally been detected in field-caught Anopheles specimens. Whether such observations reflect occasional spillover or laboratory contamination or whether Anopheles mosquitoes are natural hosts of flaviviruses is unknown. Here, we provide in silico and in vivo evidence of transcriptionally active, flavivirus-derived endogenous viral elements (EVEs) in the genome of Anopheles minimus and Anopheles sinensis. Such non-retroviral endogenization of RNA viruses is consistent with a shared evolutionary history between flaviviruses and Anopheles mosquitoes. Phylogenetic analyses of the two newly described EVEs support the existence of a distinct clade of Anopheles-associated ISFs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbervew035
Number of pages8
JournalVirus evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2017
Externally publishedYes

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