Reverse genetics system for shuni virus, an emerging orthobunyavirus with zoonotic potential

Judith Oymans, Paul J. Wichgers Schreur, Sophie Van Oort, Rianka Vloet, Marietjie Venter, Gorben P. Pijlman, Monique M. Van Oers, Jeroen Kortekaas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The genus Orthobunyavirus (family Peribunyaviridae, order Bunyavirales) comprises over 170 named mosquito- and midge-borne viruses, several of which cause severe disease in animals or humans. Their three-segmented genomes enable reassortment with related viruses, which may result in novel viruses with altered host or tissue tropism and virulence. One such reassortant, Schmallenberg virus (SBV), emerged in north-western Europe in 2011. Shuni virus (SHUV) is an orthobunyavirus related to SBV that is associated with neurological disease in horses in southern Africa and recently caused an outbreak manifesting with neurological disease and birth defects among ruminants in Israel. The zoonotic potential of SHUV was recently underscored by its association with neurological disease in humans. We here report a reverse genetics system for SHUV and provide first evidence that the non-structural (NSs) protein of SHUV functions as an antagonist of host innate immune responses. We furthermore report the rescue of a reassortant containing the L and S segments of SBV and the M segment of SHUV. This novel reverse genetics system can now be used to study SHUV virulence and tropism, and to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that drive reassortment events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number455
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Orthobunyavirus
  • Reassortment
  • Reverse genetics
  • Schmallenberg virus
  • Shuni virus


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