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Virology. 1999 Aug 1;260(2):316-28.

Extensive sequence divergence and phylogenetic relationships between the fusogenic and nonfusogenic orthoreoviruses: a species proposal.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4H7, Canada.


The orthoreoviruses can be divided into subgroups based on either their restricted host range or the unusual ability of certain members of this group of nonenveloped viruses to induce cell-cell fusion from within. Phylogenetic relationships cannot be inferred based on these biological properties because fusogenic reoviruses are present in both the avian and mammalian subgroups. To address this issue, the complete nucleotide sequences of the three S-class genome segments encoding the major sigma-class core, outer capsid, and nonstructural proteins of four fusogenic reoviruses were determined and used to establish the phylogeny of the orthoreoviruses. The viruses analysed included two strains of avian reovirus and the only known fusogenic mammalian reoviruses, Nelson Bay virus and baboon reovirus. Comparative sequence analysis of these fusogenic reoviruses and the prototypical nonfusogenic mammalian reoviruses indicated a highly diverged genus with both conserved and unique sequence-predicted structural motifs in the major sigma-class proteins. Phylogenetic analysis provided the basis for the first taxonomic subdivision of the orthoreoviruses into species classes based on inferred evolutionary relationships. It is proposed that the orthoreoviruses consist of at least four species that separate into three clades. The nonfusogenic mammalian reovirus species represent a single clade, and the fusogenic reoviruses separate into two distinct clades. The first clade of fusogenic reoviruses contains the avian reovirus- and Nelson Bay virus-type species, with the second clade being occupied by the single baboon reovirus isolate that represents a fourth orthoreovirus species.

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