Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27383735
Sci Rep 2016 07;6:29564
Most arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses), perpetuated by alternation between a vertebrate host and an insect vector, are likely to emerge through minor genetic changes enabling the virus to adapt to new hosts. In the past decade, chikungunya virus (CHIKV; Alphavirus, Togaviridae) has emerged on La Réunion Island following the selection of a unique substitution in the CHIKV E1 envelope glycoprotein (E1-A226V) of an East-Central-South African (ECSA) genotype conferring a higher transmission rate by the mosquito Aedes albopictus. Assumed to have occurred independently on at least four separate occasions, this evolutionary convergence was suspected to be responsible for CHIKV worldwide expansion. However, assumptions on CHIKV emergence were mainly based on viral genetic changes and the role of the mosquito population quasispecies remained unexplored. Here we show that the nature of the vector population is pivotal in selecting the epidemic CHIKV. We demonstrate using microsatellites mosquito genotyping that Ae. albopictus populations are genetically differentiated, contributing to explain their differential ability to select the E1-226V mutation. Aedes albopictus, newly introduced in Congo coinciding with the first CHIKV outbreak, was not able to select the substitution E1-A226V nor to preferentially transmit a CHIKV clone harboring the E1-226V as did Ae. albopictus from La Réunion.