Combination of RT-PCR and proteomics for the identification of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus in ticks
José de la Fuente
Isabel G. Fernández de Mera
Margarita M. Villar-Rayo
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Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is an emerging tick-borne zoonotic disease caused by the CCHF virus (CCHFV). In this study, an experimental approach combining RT-PCR and proteomics was used for the identification and characterization of CCHFV in 106 ticks from 7 species that were collected from small ruminants in Greece. The methodological approach included an initial screening for CCHFV by RT-PCR followed by proteomics analysis of positive and control negative tick samples. This novel approach allowed the identification of CCHFV-positive ticks and provided additional information to corroborate the RTPCR findings using a different approach. Two ticks, Dermacentor marginatus and Haemaphysalis parva collected from a goat and a sheep, respectively were positive for CCHFV. The sequences for CCHFV RNA segments S and L were characterized by RT-PCR and proteomics analysis of tick samples, respectively. These results showed the possibility of combining analyses at the RNA and protein levels using RT-PCR and proteomics for the characterization of CCHFV in ticks. The results supported that the CCHFV identified in ticks are genetic variants of the AP92 strain. Although the AP92-like strains probably do not represent a high risk of CCHF to the population, the circulation of genetically diverse CCHFV strains could potentially result in the appearance of novel viral genotypes with increased pathogenicity and fitness.