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Virology. 2003 Nov 10;316(1):90-103.

Genomic sequence of a ranavirus (family Iridoviridae) associated with salamander mortalities in North America.

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School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-4601, USA.


Disease is among the suspected causes of amphibian population declines, and an iridovirus and a chytrid fungus are the primary pathogens associated with amphibian mortalities. Ambystoma tigrinum virus (ATV) and a closely related strain, Regina ranavirus (RRV), are implicated in salamander die-offs in Arizona and Canada, respectively. We report the complete sequence of the ATV genome and partial sequence of the RRV genome. Sequence analysis of the ATV/RRV genomes showed marked similarity to other ranaviruses, including tiger frog virus (TFV) and frog virus 3 (FV3), the type virus of the genus Ranavirus (family Iridoviridae), as well as more distant relationships to lymphocystis disease virus, Chilo iridescent virus, and infectious spleen and kidney necrosis virus. Putative open reading frames (ORFs) in the ATV sequence identified 24 genes that appear to control virus replication and block antiviral responses. In addition, >50 other putative genes, homologous to ORFs in other iridoviral genomes but of unknown function, were also identified. Sequence comparison performed by dot plot analysis between ATV and itself revealed a conserved 14-bp palindromic repeat within most intragenic regions. Dot plot analysis of ATV vs RRV sequences identified several polymorphisms between the two isolates. Finally, a comparison of ATV and TFV genomic sequences identified genomic rearrangements consistent with the high recombination frequency of iridoviruses. Given the adverse effects that ranavirus infections have on amphibian and fish populations, ATV/RRV sequence information will allow the design of better diagnostic probes for identifying ranavirus infections and extend our understanding of molecular events in ranavirus-infected cells.

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