A novel coding-region RNA element modulates infectious dengue virus particle production in both mammalian and mosquito cells and regulates viral replication in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.


Dengue virus (DENV) is an enveloped flavivirus with a positive-sense RNA genome transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, causing the most important arthropod-borne viral disease affecting humans. Relatively few cis-acting RNA regulatory elements have been described in the DENV coding-region. Here, by introducing silent mutations into a DENV-2 infectious clone, we identify the conserved capsid-coding region 1 (CCR1), an RNA sequence element that regulates viral replication in mammalian cells and to a greater extent in Ae. albopictus mosquito cells. These defects were confirmed in vivo, resulting in decreased replication in Ae. aegypti mosquito bodies and dissemination to the salivary glands. Furthermore, CCR1 does not regulate translation, RNA synthesis or virion retention but likely modulates assembly, as mutations resulted in the release of non-infectious viral particles from both cell types. Understanding the role of CCR1 could help characterize the poorly-defined stage of assembly in the DENV life cycle and uncover novel anti-viral targets.

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