Journal of Virology, August 2017

Yasutsugu Suzuki, Lionel Frangeul, Laura B. Dickson, Hervé Blanc, Yann Verdier, Joelle Vinh, Louis Lambrechts, Maria-Carla Saleh


Endogenous viral elements derived from nonretroviral RNA viruses have been described in various animal genomes. Whether they have a biological function, such as host immune protection against related viruses, is a field of intense study. Here, we investigated the repertoire of endogenous flaviviral elements (EFVEs) in Aedes mosquitoes, the vectors of arboviruses such as dengue and chikungunya viruses. Previous studies identified three EFVEs from Aedes albopictus cell lines and one from Aedes aegypti cell lines. However, an in-depth characterization of EFVEs in wild-type mosquito populations and individual mosquitoes in vivo has not been performed. We detected the full-length DNA sequence of the previously described EFVEs and their respective transcripts in several A. albopictus and A. aegypti populations from geographically distinct areas. However, EFVE-derived proteins were not detected by mass spectrometry. Using deep sequencing, we detected the production of PIWI-interacting RNA-like small RNAs, in an antisense orientation, targeting the EFVEs and their flanking regions in vivo. The EFVEs were integrated in repetitive regions of the mosquito genomes, and their flanking sequences varied among mosquito populations. We bioinformatically predicted several new EFVEs from a Vietnamese A. albopictus population and observed variation in the occurrence of those elements among mosquitoes. Phylogenetic analysis of an A. aegypti EFVE suggested that it integrated prior to the global expansion of the species and subsequently diverged among and within populations. The findings of this study together reveal the substantial structural and nucleotide diversity of flaviviral integrations in Aedes genomes. Unraveling this diversity will help to elucidate the potential biological function of these EFVEs.

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