Autochthonous Transmission of West Nile Virus by a New Vector in Iran, Vector-Host Interaction Modeling and Virulence Gene Determinants
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract: Using molecular techniques and bioinformatics tools, we studied the vector-host interactions and the molecular epidemiology of West Nile virus (WNV) in western Iran. Mosquitoes were collected during 2017 and 2018. DNA typing assays were used to study vector host interactions. Mosquitoes were screened by RT-PCR for the genomes of five virus families. WNV-positive samples were fully sequenced and evolutionary tree and molecular architecture were constructed by Geneious software and SWISS-MODEL workspace, respectively. A total of 5028 mosquito specimens were collected and identified. The most prevalent species was Culex (Cx.) pipiens complex (57.3%). Analysis of the blood-feeding preferences of blood-fed mosquitoes revealed six mammalian and one bird species as hosts. One mosquito pool containing non-blood-fed Cx. theileri and one blood-fed Culex pipiens pipiens (Cpp.) biotype pipiens were positive for WNV. A phylogram indicated that the obtained WNV sequences belonged to lineage 2, subclade 2 g. Several amino acid substitutions suspected as virulence markers were observed in the Iranian WNV strains. The three-dimensional structural homology model of the E-protein identified hot spot domains known to facilitate virus invasion and neurotropism. The recent detection of WNV lineage 2 in mosquitoes from several regions of Iran in consecutive years suggests that the virus is established in the country.