Lineage Divergence and Vector-Specific Adaptation Have Driven Chikungunya Virus onto Multiple Adaptive Landscapes

Rubing Chen, Jessica A. Plante, Kenneth S. Plante, Ruimei Yun, Divya Shinde, Jianying Liu, Sherry Haller, Suchetana Mukhopadhyay, Scott C. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have shown that the adaptation of Indian Ocean lineage (IOL) chikungunya virus (CHIKV) strains for Aedes albopictus transmission was mediated by an E1-A226V substitution, followed by either a single substitution in E2 or synergistic substitutions in the E2 and E3 envelope glycoproteins. Here, we examined whether Asian lineage strains, including those that descended from the 2014 Caribbean introduction, are likely to acquire these A. albopictus-adaptive E2 substitutions. Because Asian lineage strains cannot adapt through the E1-A226V substitution due to an epistatic constraint, we first determined that the beneficial effect of these E2 mutations in IOL strains is independent of E1-A226V. We then introduced each of these E2 adaptive mutations into the Asian lineage backbone to determine if they improve infectivity for A. albopictus. Surprisingly, our results indicated that in the Asian lineage backbone, these E2 mutations significantly decreased CHIKV fitness in A. albopictus. Furthermore, we tested the effects of these mutations in Aedes aegypti and observed different results from those in A. albopictus, suggesting that mosquito species-specific factors that interact with the envelope proteins are involved in vector infection efficiency. Overall, our results indicate that the divergence between Asian lineage and IOL CHIKVs has led them onto different adaptive landscapes with differing potentials to expand their vector host range. IMPORTANCE Since its introduction into the Caribbean in October 2013, CHIKV has rapidly spread to almost the entire neotropical region. However, its potential to further spread globally, including into more temperate climates, depends in part on its ability to be transmitted efficiently by Aedes albopictus, which can survive colder winters than A. aegypti. We examined in an Asian lineage backbone A. albopictus-adaptive mutations that arose from 2005 to 2009 in Indian Ocean lineage (IOL) strains. Our results predict that the Asian CHIKV lineage now in the Americas will not readily adapt for enhanced A. albopictus transmission via the same mechanisms or adaptive mutations used previously by IOL strains. The vector species- and CHIKV lineage-specific effects caused by adaptive CHIKV envelope glycoprotein substitutions may elucidate our understanding of the mechanisms of mosquito infection and spread.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02738-21
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Alphavirus
  • Arbovirus
  • Arthropod vectors
  • Evolution
  • Mosquito

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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