Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 22130539
J. Virol. 2012 Feb;86(3):1853-61
Dengue viruses (DENV) are characterized by extensive genetic diversity and can be organized in multiple, genetically distinct lineages that arise and die out on a regular basis in regions where dengue is endemic. A fundamental question for understanding DENV evolution is the relative extent to which stochastic processes (genetic drift) and natural selection acting on fitness differences among lineages contribute to lineage diversity and turnover. Here, we used a set of recently collected and archived low-passage DENV-1 isolates from Thailand to examine the role of mosquito vector-virus interactions in DENV evolution. By comparing the ability of 23 viruses isolated on different dates between 1985 and 2009 to be transmitted by a present-day Aedes aegypti population from Thailand, we found that a major clade replacement event in the mid-1990s was associated with virus isolates exhibiting increased titers in the vector’s hemocoel, which is predicted to result in a higher probability of transmission. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that selection for enhanced transmission by mosquitoes is a possible mechanism underlying major DENV clade replacement events. There was significant variation in transmission potential among isolates within each clade, indicating that in addition to vector-driven selection, other evolutionary forces act to maintain viral genetic diversity. We conclude that occasional adaptive processes involving the mosquito vector can drive major DENV lineage replacement events.