Identification of insect-specific flaviviruses in areas of Brazil and Paraguay experiencing endemic arbovirus transmission and the description of a novel flavivirus infecting Sabethes belisarioi.


Sección Virología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay. Electronic address: [Email]


Viral infection was examined with pan-flavivirus and pan-alphavirus sets of primers in mosquitoes collected in four South American regions with confirmed pathogenic arbovirus circulation. Positive pools for flavivirus infection were sequenced and screened for specific arboviruses, which were not detected. However, NS5 gene sequencing showed that most sequences corresponded to the insect-specific Culex flavivirus. One sequence retrieved from an Aedes albopictus pool grouped with the insect-specific Aedes flavivirus and two Sabethes belisarioi pools were infected by a previously unknown flavivirus, tentatively named Sabethes flavivirus (SbFV). Phylogenetic inference placed SbFV as ancestral to a clade formed by Culiseta flavivirus, Mercadeo, and Calbertado. SbFV polyprotein showed an average aminoacidic identity of 51% in comparison to these flaviviruses. In vitro studies suggest that SbFV infects insect cells, but not vertebrate cells, therefore, we propose it as a new insect-specific flavivirus. These results highlight the wide distribution of insect-specific flaviviruses concomitant with the circulation of emergent arboviruses.


Arboviruses,Insect-specific Viruses,Mosquitoes,Sabethes flavivirus,