Complementation studies with the novel "Bungowannah" virus provide new insights in the compatibility of pestivirus proteins
In recent years several atypical pestiviruses have been described. Bungowannah virus is the most divergent virus in this group. Therefore, heterologous complementation was used to clarify the phylogenetic relationship and to analyze the exchangeability of genome regions encoding structural proteins. Using a BVDV type 1 backbone, chimeric constructs with substituted envelope proteins Erns, E1 and E2, were investigated. While all constructs replicated autonomously, infectious high titer chimeric virus could only be observed after exchanging the complete E1-E2 encoding region. The complementation of E1 and E2 alone resulted only in replicons. Complementation of BVDV-Erns was only efficient if Bungowannah virus-Erns was expressed from a bicistronic construct. Our data provide new insights in the compatibility of pestivirus proteins and demonstrate that heterologous complementation could be useful to characterize new pestiviruses.