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J Gen Virol. 2013 Oct;94(Pt 10):2259-65. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.055905-0. Epub 2013 Jul 16.

Recovery of African horse sickness virus from synthetic RNA.

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Department of Pathogen Molecular Biology, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK.


African horse sickness virus (AHSV) is an insect-vectored emerging pathogen of equine species. AHSV (nine serotypes) is a member of the genus Orbivirus, with a morphology and coding strategy similar to that of the type member, bluetongue virus. However, these viruses are distinct at the genetic level, in the proteins they encode and in their pathobiology. AHSV infection of horses is highly virulent with a mortality rate of up to 90 %. AHSV is transmitted by Culicoides, a common European insect, and has the potential to emerge in Europe from endemic countries of Africa. As a result, a safe and effective vaccine is sought urgently. As part of a programme to generate a designed highly attenuated vaccine, we report here the recovery of AHSV from a complete set of RNA transcripts synthesized in vitro from cDNA clones. We have demonstrated the generation of mutant and reassortant AHSV genomes, their recovery, stable passage, and characterization. Our findings provide a new approach to investigate AHSV replication, to design AHSV vaccines and to aid diagnosis.

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