Characterization of the adaptation of different host-specific cell lines to infection with West Nile virus

West Nile virus (WNV) represents a neurotropic flavivirus that mainly circulates in an enzootic cycle between ornithophilic mosquitoes and wild birds. Nevertheless, WNV can also be transmitted to humans and horses, which occasionally leads to severe infections with deadly outcome. Due to climate change WNV distribution has spread to central Europe leading to autochthonous cases in Germany in the last years, which highlights the importance for better understanding the virus-host interface to improve antiviral treatment. In order to characterize WNV infection of different target species, various host cell lines from bird, horse and human were infected with a recent German WNV mosquito isolate (Berlin 2019) and virus growth kinetic as well as ultrastructural analyses using electron microscopy was performed. Based on these experiments we observed that the used cell lines seem to be highly susceptible for a WNV infection and develop comparable virus titers. Additionally, all cells were infected with WNV in presence and absence of Culex pipiens biotype molestus salivary glands extract (SGE) to analyze the influence of SGE on WNV virus titers. In future, comparative proteome analyses using mass spectrometry will be conducted in order to elucidate potential host specific response patterns to a WNV infection. The better understanding of WNV infection of different host species will contribute to the development of novel therapeutics or suppression strategies in a One-health approach.


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