Insect-specific flavivirus infection is restricted by innate immunity in the vertebrate host

Maya O. Tree, Dexter R. McKellar, Kristopher J. Kieft, Alan M. Watson, Kate D. Ryman, Michael J. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Arboviruses are a large group of viruses that are transmitted by arthropods including ticks and mosquitoes. The global diversity of arboviruses is unknown; however, theoretical studies have estimated that over 2,000 mosquito-borne flaviviruses may exist. An increasing number of flaviviruses can only infect insect cells. We hypothesize that insect-specific flaviviruses (ISFVs) represent model genetic precursors to pathogenic flaviviruses, although the genetic mechanisms required for adaptation to vertebrate hosts are unclear. In this study, we determined that Kamiti River virus (KRV) infection was inhibited by innate immunity pathways in vertebrate cells. KRV infection of IRF3,5,7-/- mouse embryonic fibroblasts led to low levels of viral protein production and shedding of infectious progeny. These data suggest that ISFVs cannot evade vertebrate innate immune pathways. Identifying cellular pathways and genetic changes that are required for adaptation of arthropod-specific arboviruses to vertebrate hosts is critical to understanding emerging infectious disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-91
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Dengue virus
  • Evolution
  • Flavivirus
  • Host adaptation
  • Innate immunity
  • Insect-specific
  • Kamiti River virus


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