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Virology. 1992 Aug;189(2):511-24.

The complete nucleotide sequence of cell fusing agent (CFA): homology between the nonstructural proteins encoded by CFA and the nonstructural proteins encoded by arthropod-borne flaviviruses.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway 08854-5635.


Cell fusing agent (CFA) is an RNA virus originally isolated from a line of Aedes aegypti mosquito cells. Although our characterization of the virus many years ago showed that it resembled the flaviviruses, there was no detectable serological cross-reaction with members of the genus flavivirus. Furthermore, unlike the well-studied members of the genus flavivirus, CFA did not replicate in any of several vertebrate cell lines tested. We have now determined the nucleotide sequence of the CFA genome. Comparison of the predicted amino acid sequence of the CFA polyprotein with viral protein sequences in Genbank, has made it apparent that CFA should now be assigned to the family Flaviviridae, genus flavivirus. The homology between CFA proteins and those of other flaviviruses was highest for NS5 (45%) and NS3 (34%). Little homology was found for the structural proteins. Thus, CFA is only distantly related to the other flaviviruses for which there is sequence information; nevertheless, with respect to their hydrophobicity plots, the CFA polyprotein and the polyproteins of other flaviviruses are remarkably similar. We suggest that CFA is an insect virus, which was present in the embryos from which the Ae. aegypti cell line was established. Thus, CFA seems to be the first member of the family Flaviviridae, genus flavivirus, to be identified as an insect virus.

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