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Virus Res. 2008 Mar;132(1-2):114-21. Epub 2007 Dec 26.

Species-specific deletion of the viral attachment glycoprotein of avian metapneumovirus.

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Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA.


The avian metapneumovirus (AMPV) genome encodes the fusion (F), small hydrophobic (SH), and attachment glycoprotein (G) as envelope glycoproteins. The F and G proteins mainly function to allow viral entry into host cells during the early steps of the virus life cycle. The highly variable AMPV G protein is a major determinant for distinguishing virus subtypes. Sequence analysis was used to determine if any differences between avian or mammalian cell propagated subtype C AMPV could be detected for the 1.8kb G gene. As a result, the complete 1.8kb G gene was found to be present when AMPV was propagated in our immortal turkey turbinate (TT-1) cell line regardless of passage number. Surprisingly, AMPV propagated for 15 or more passages in mammalian Vero cells revealed an essentially deleted G gene in the viral genome, resulting in no G gene mRNA expression. Although the Vero cell propagated AMPV genome contained a small 122 nucleotide fragment of the G gene, no other mRNA variants were detected from either mammalian or avian propagated AMPV. The G gene truncation might be caused by cellular molecular mechanisms that are species-specific. The lack of viral gene deletions suggests that avian cell propagated AMPV will provide a better alternative host for live recombinant vaccine development based on a reverse genetics system.

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