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Molecular characterization of Chikungunya virus isolates from clinical samples and adult Aedes albopictus mosquitoes emerged from larvae from Kerala, South India

Kudukkil P Niyas1, Rachy Abraham1, Ramakrishnan Nair Unnikrishnan2, Thomas Mathew23, Sajith Nair1, Anoop Manakkadan1, Aneesh Issac1 and Easwaran Sreekumar1*

Author Affiliations

1 Molecular Virology Laboratory, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), Thycaud P.O., Thiruvananthapuram-695014, Kerala, India

2 State Disease Control and Monitoring Cell (SDCMC), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Government of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram-695014, Kerala, India

3 Department of Community Medicine, Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

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Virology Journal 2010, 7:189  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-7-189

Published: 13 August 2010


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), an arthritogenic alphavirus, is transmitted to humans by infected Aedes (Ae.) aegypti and Ae.albopictus mosquitoes. In the study, reverse-transcription PCR (RT PCR) and virus isolation detected CHIKV in patient samples and also in adult Ae.albopictus mosquitoes that was derived from larvae collected during a chikungunya (CHIK) outbreak in Kerala in 2009. The CHIKV strains involved in the outbreak were the East, Central and South African (ECSA) genotype that had the E1 A226V mutation. The viral strains from the mosquitoes and CHIK patients from the same area showed a close relationship based on phylogenetic analysis. Genetic characterization by partial sequencing of non-structural protein 2 (nsP2; 378 bp), envelope E1 (505 bp) and E2 (428 bp) identified one critical mutation in the E2 protein coding region of these CHIKV strains. This novel, non-conservative mutation, L210Q, consistently present in both human and mosquito-derived samples studied, was within the region of the E2 protein (amino acids E2 200-220) that determines mosquito cell infectivity in many alpha viruses. Our results show the involvement of Ae. albopictus in this outbreak in Kerala and appearance of CHIKV with novel genetic changes. Detection of virus in adult mosquitoes, emerged in the laboratory from larvae, also points to the possibility of transovarial transmission (TOT) of mutant CHIKV strains in mosquitoes.