Identification of the genome segments of bluetongue virus serotype 26 (isolate KUW2010/02) that restrict replication in a Culicoides sonorensis cell line (KC cells)

Bluetongue virus (BTV) can infect most ruminant species and is usually transmitted by adult, vector-competent biting midges (Culicoides spp.). Infection with BTV can cause severe clinical signs and can be fatal, particularly in naïve sheep and some deer species. Although 24 distinct BTV serotypes were recognized for several decades, additional 'types' have recently been identified, including BTV-25 (from Switzerland), BTV-26 (from Kuwait) and BTV-27 from France (Corsica). Although BTV-25 has failed to grow in either insect or mammalian cell cultures, BTV-26 (isolate KUW2010/02), which can be transmitted horizontally between goats in the absence of vector insects, does not replicate in a Culicoides sonorensis cell line (KC cells) but can be propagated in mammalian cells (BSR cells). The BTV genome consists of ten segments of linear dsRNA. Mono-reassortant viruses were generated by reverse-genetics, each one containing a single BTV-26 genome segment in a BTV-1 genetic-background. However, attempts to recover a mono-reassortant containing genome-segment 2 (Seg-2) of BTV-26 (encoding VP2), were unsuccessful but a triple-reassortant was successfully generated containing Seg-2, Seg-6 and Seg-7 (encoding VP5 and VP7 respectively) of BTV-26. Reassortants were recovered and most replicated well in mammalian cells (BSR cells). However, mono-reassortants containing Seg-1 or Seg-3 of BTV-26 (encoding VP1, or VP3 respectively) and the triple reassortant failed to replicate, while a mono-reassortant containing Seg-7 of BTV-26 only replicated slowly in KC cells.

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