A novel Betaretrovirus discovered in cattle with neurological disease and encephalitis.

Hierweger, Melanie M.; Koch, Michel Christoph; Kauer, Ronja V.; Bagó, Zoltán; Oevermann, Anna; Bertoni, Giuseppe; Seuberlich, Torsten (2021). A novel Betaretrovirus discovered in cattle with neurological disease and encephalitis. Retrovirology, 18(1), p. 40. BioMed Central 10.1186/s12977-021-00585-x

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The majority of emerging infectious diseases in humans are of animal origin, and many of them are caused by neuropathogenic viruses. Many cases of neurological disease and encephalitis in livestock remain etiologically unresolved, posing a constant threat to animal and human health. Thus, continuous extension of our knowledge of the repertoire of viruses prone to infect the central nervous system (CNS) is vital for pathogen monitoring and the early detection of emerging viruses. Using high-throughput sequencing (HTS) and bioinformatics, we discovered a new retrovirus, bovine retrovirus CH15 (BoRV CH15), in the CNS of a cow with non-suppurative encephalitis. Phylogenetic analysis revealed the affiliation of BoRV CH15 to the genus Betaretrovirus.


BoRV CH15 genomes were identified prospectively and retrospectively by PCR, RT-PCR, and HTS, with targeting of viral RNA and proviral DNA, in six additional diseased cows investigated over a period of > 20 years and of different geographical origins. The virus was not found in brain samples from healthy slaughtered control animals (n = 130). We determined the full-length proviral genomes from six of the seven investigated animals and, using in situ hybridization, identified viral RNA in the cytoplasm of cells morphologically compatible with neurons in diseased brains.


Further screening of brain samples, virus isolation, and infection studies are needed to estimate the significance of these findings and the causative association of BoRV CH15 with neurological disease and encephalitis in cattle. However, with the full-length proviral sequences of BoRV CH15 genomes, we provide the basis for a molecular clone and further in vitro investigation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Virology and Immunology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Public Health Institute
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Experimental Clinical Research
09 Interdisciplinary Units > Microscopy Imaging Center (MIC)

UniBE Contributor:

Hierweger, Melanie Michaela, Koch, Michel Christoph, Kauer, Ronja Veronique, Oevermann, Anna, Bertoni, Giuseppe, Seuberlich, Torsten


500 Science
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




BioMed Central




Katharina Gerber-Paizs

Date Deposited:

24 Feb 2022 08:23

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:08

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Bovine retrovirus Cattle High-throughput sequencing Neurological disease Non-suppurative encephalitis Virus discovery





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