Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) is an emerging tick-borne viral disease caused by the SFTS virus (SFTSV) from Bunyaviridae that is endemic in East Asia. However, the genetic and evolutionary characteristics shared between tick- and human-derived Korean SFTSV strains are still limited.
In this study we identify, for the first time, the genome sequence of a tick ( Haemaphysalis longicornis)-derived Korean SFTSV strain (designated as KAGWT) and compare this virus with recent human SFTSV isolates to identify the genetic variations and relationships among SFTSV strains. The genome of the KAGWT strain is consistent with the described genome of other members of the genus Phlebovirus with 6,368 nucleotides (nt), 3,378 nt, and 1,746 nt in the Large (L), Medium (M) and Small (S) segments, respectively. Compared with other completely sequenced human-derived Korean SFTSV strains, the KAGWT strain had highest sequence identities at the nucleotide and deduced amino acid level in each segment with the KAGWH3 strain which was isolated from SFTS patient within the same region, although there is one unique amino acid substitution in the Gn protein (A66S). Phylogenetic analyses of complete genome sequences revealed that at least four different genotypes of SFTSV are co-circulating in South Korea, and that the tick- and human-derived Korean SFTSV strains (genotype B) are closely related to one another. Although we could not detect reassortant, which are commonly observed in segmented viruses, further large-scale surveillance and detailed genomic analysis studies are needed to better understand the molecular epidemiology, genetic diversity, and evolution of SFTSV.
Full-length sequence analysis revealed a clear association between the genetic origins of tick- and human-derived SFTSV strains. While the most prevalent Korean SFTSV is genotype B, at least four different genotypes of SFTSV strains are co-circulating in South Korea. These findings provide information regarding the molecular epidemiology, genetic diversity, and evolution of SFTSV in East Asia.
Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) is an emerging tick-borne viral disease caused by the SFTS virus (SFTSV). During entomological surveillance of SFTSV infection in Korean ticks collected from SFTS outbreak areas, we isolated a single SFTSV strain which we designated KAGWT. In addition, we isolated three SFTSVs from human patients with typical SFTS symptoms. In this study, we report the genomic sequences of each of these isolates and compare the genetic and evolutionary characteristics between tick- and human-derived Korean SFTSV isolates. Genetic and phylogenetic analyses of these sequences revealed that the tick-derived Korean SFTSV strain is clustered into genotype B, the most prevalent genotype in South Korea, and was closely related to other SFTSV in the same group. Furthermore, our results show that at least four different genotypes of SFTSV strains are co-circulating in South Korea.