Indexed on: 29 May '18Published on: 29 May '18Published in: Emerging Microbes & Infections
Tick-borne viral diseases have attracted much attention in recent years because of their increasing incidence and threat to human health. Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome phlebovirus (SFTSV) and Heartland virus (HRTV) were recently identified as tick-borne phleboviruses (TBPVs) in Asia and the United States, respectively, and are associated with severe human diseases with similar clinical manifestations. In this study, we report the first identification and isolation of a novel TBPV named Guertu virus (GTV) from Dermacentor nuttalli ticks in Xinjiang Province, China, where TBPVs had not been previously discovered. Genome sequence and phylogenetic analyses showed that GTV is closely related to SFTSV and HRTV and was classified as a member of the genus Phlebovirus, family Phenuiviridae, order Bunyavirales. In vitro and in vivo investigations of the properties of GTV demonstrated that it was able to infect animal and human cell lines and can suppress type I interferon signaling, similar to SFTSV, that GTV nucleoprotein (NP) can rescue SFTSV replication by replacing SFTSV NP, and that GTV infection can cause pathological lesions in mice. Moreover, a serological survey identified antibodies against GTV from serum samples of individuals living in Guertu County, three of which contained neutralizing antibodies, suggesting that GTV can infect humans. Our findings suggested that this virus is a potential pathogen that poses a threat to animals and humans. Further studies and surveillance of GTV are recommended to be carried out in Xinjiang Province as well as in other locations.