Comparative analysis of complete genome sequences of European subtype tick-borne encephalitis virus strains isolated from Ixodes persulcatus ticks, long-tailed ground squirrel (Spermophilus undulatus), and human blood in the Asian part of Russia.
Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is divided into three subtypes: European (TBEV-Eu), Siberian (TBEV-Sib), and Far Eastern (TBEV-FE) subtypes. The geographical range of TBEV-Eu dominates in Europe, but this subtype is present focally across the whole non-tropical forested Eurasian belt, through Russia to South Korea. However, the TBEV-Eu strains isolated outside Europe remain poorly characterized. In this study, full-genome sequences of eight TBEV-Eu isolates were determined. These strains were isolated from Ixodes persulcatus ticks, long-tailed ground squirrel (Spermophilus undulatus), and human blood in the natural foci of Western and Eastern Siberia, Russia. A phylogenetic analysis of all available TBEV-Eu genomic sequences revealed that strains from Siberia were closely related to other strains from Europe and South Korea. The closest relation was identified between the Siberian strains and strains from Zmeinogorsk (Western Siberia, Russia) and strain Absettarov (Karelia, Russia), and were most divergent from strains from the Czech Republic and Norway. TBEV-Eu strains isolated in Eastern Siberia were more closely related phylogenetically to strains from South Korea, but strains from Western Siberia grouped together with the strains from Europe, suggesting two genetic TBEV-Eu lineages present in Siberia.