Many insect cell lines are persistently infected with insect-specific viruses (ISV) often unrecognized by the scientific community. Considering recent findings showing the possibility of interference between arbovirus and ISV infections, it is important to pay attention to ISV-infected cell lines. One example is the Entomobirnavirus, Culex Y virus (CYV). Here we describe the detection of CYV using a combination of small RNA sequencing, electron microscopy and PCR in mosquito cell lines Aag2, U4.4 and C7-10. We found CYV-specific small RNAs in all three cell lines. Interestingly, the magnitude of the detected viral RNA genome is variable among cell passages and leads to irregular detection via electron microscopy. Gaining insights into the presence of persistent ISV infection in commonly used mosquito cells and their interactions with the host immune system is beneficial for evaluating the outcome of co-infections with arboviruses of public health concern.
Keywords: Culex Y virus; RNAi; entomobirnavirus; insect-specific viruses; mosquito cells; persistent infection.