Host-dependence of in vitro reassortment dynamics among the Sathuperi and Shamonda Simbuviruses
Orthobunyaviruses are arboviruses (Arthropod Borne Virus) and possess multipartite genomes made up of three negative RNAs corresponding to the small (S), medium (M) and large (L) segments. Reassortment and recombination are evolutionary driving forces of such segmented viruses and lead to the emergence of new strains and species. Retrospective studies based on phylogenetical analysis are able to evaluate these mechanisms at the end of the selection process but fail to address the dynamics of emergence. This issue was addressed using two Orthobunyaviruses infecting ruminants and belonging to the Simbu serogroup: the Sathuperi virus (SATV) and the Shamonda virus (SHAV). Both viruses were associated with abortion, stillbirth and congenital malformations occurring after transplacental transmission and were suspected to spread together in different ruminant and insect populations. This study showed that different viruses related to SHAV and SATV are spreading simultaneously in ruminants and equids of the Sub-Saharan region. Their reassortment and recombination potential was evaluated in mammalian and in insect contexts. A method was set up to determine the genomic background of any clonal progeny viruses isolated after in vitro coinfections assays. All the reassortment combinations were generated in both contexts while no recombinant virus was isolated. Progeny virus populations revealed a high level of reassortment in mammalian cells and a much lower level in insect cells. In vitro selection pressure that mimicked the host switching (insect-mammal) revealed that the best adapted reassortant virus was connected with an advantageous replicative fitness and with the presence of a specific segment.