Characterization of messenger RNA termini in Schmallenberg virus and related Simbuviruses
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is an emerging arbovirus infecting ruminants in Europe. SBV belongs to the Bunyaviridae family within the Simbu serogroup. Its genome comprises three segments, small (S), medium (M) and large (L), that together encode six proteins and contain NTRs. NTRs are involved in initiation and termination of transcription and in genome packaging. This study explored the 3′ mRNA termini of SBV and related Simbuviruses. In addition, the 5′ termini of SBV messenger RNA (mRNA) were characterized. For the three SBV segments, cap-snatching was found to initiate mRNA transcription both in vivo and in vitro. The presence of extraneous nucleotides between host RNA leaders and the viral termini fits with the previously described prime-and-realign theory. At the 3′ termini, common features were identified for SBV and related Simbuviruses. However, different patterns were observed for the termini of the three segments from the same virus type.