Viruses 13 (11) - [2021-10-29; online 2021-10-29]
RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated antiviral immunity is believed to be the primary defense against viral infection in mosquitoes. The production of virus-specific small RNA has been demonstrated in mosquitoes and mosquito-derived cell lines for viruses in all of the major arbovirus families. However, many if not all mosquitoes are infected with a group of viruses known as insect-specific viruses (ISVs), and little is known about the mosquito immune response to this group of viruses. Therefore, in this study, we sequenced small RNA from an Aedes albopictus-derived cell line infected with either Lammi virus (LamV) or Hanko virus (HakV). These viruses belong to two distinct phylogenetic groups of insect-specific flaviviruses (ISFVs). The results revealed that both viruses elicited a strong virus-derived small interfering RNA (vsiRNA) response that increased over time and that targeted the whole viral genome, with a few predominant hotspots observed. Furthermore, only the LamV-infected cells produced virus-derived Piwi-like RNAs (vpiRNAs); however, they were mainly derived from the antisense genome and did not show the typical ping-pong signatures. HakV, which is more distantly related to the dual-host flaviviruses than LamV, may lack certain unknown sequence elements or structures required for vpiRNA production. Our findings increase the understanding of mosquito innate immunity and ISFVs' effects on their host.