Virology journal 2017 03 2314(1) 61 doi 10.1186/s12985-017-0725-5
Inkoo virus (INKV) is a less known mosquito-borne virus belonging to Bunyaviridae, genus Orthobunyavirus, California serogroup. Studies indicate that INKV infection is mainly asymptomatic, but can cause mild encephalitis in humans. In northern Europe, the sero-prevalence against INKV is high, 41% in Sweden and 51% in Finland. Previously, INKV RNA has been detected in adult Aedes (Ae.) communis, Ae. hexodontus and Ae. punctor mosquitoes and Ae. communis larvae, but there are still gaps of knowledge regarding mosquito vectors and genetic diversity. Therefore, we aimed to determine the occurrence of INKV in its mosquito vector and characterize the isolates.
About 125,000 mosquitoes were collected during a mosquito-borne virus surveillance in northern Sweden during the summer period of 2015. Of these, 10,000 mosquitoes were processed for virus isolation and detection using cell culture and RT-PCR. Virus isolates were further characterized by whole genome sequencing. Genetic typing of mosquito species was conducted by cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene amplification and sequencing (genetic barcoding).
Several Ae. communis mosquitoes were found positive for INKV RNA and two isolates were obtained. The first complete sequences of the small (S), medium (M), and large (L) segments of INKV in Sweden were obtained. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the INKV genome was most closely related to other INKV isolates from Sweden and Finland. Of the three INKV genome segments, the INKV M segment had the highest frequency of non-synonymous mutations. The overall G/C-content of INKV genes was low for the N/NSs genes (43.8-45.5%), polyprotein (Gn/Gc/NSm) gene (35.6%) and the RNA polymerase gene (33.8%) This may be due to the fact that INKV in most instances utilized A or T in the third codon position.
INKV is frequently circulating in northern Sweden and Ae. communis is the key vector. The high mutation rate of the INKV M segment may have consequences on virulence.