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J Clin Invest. 1991 Apr;87(4):1456-61.

The isolation and characterization of a Norwalk virus-specific cDNA.

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Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology), Stanford University, California 94305.


Norwalk virus, an important cause of epidemic, acute, nonbacterial gastroenteritis in adults and children, has eluded adaptation to tissue culture, the development of an animal model, and molecular cloning. In this study, a portion of the Norwalk viral genome encoding an immunoreactive region was cloned from very small quantities of infected stool using sequence-independent single primer amplification. Six overlapping complementary DNA (cDNA) clones were isolated by immunologic screening. The expressed recombinant protein from a representative clone reacted with six of seven high titer. Norwalk-specific, postinfection sera but not with corresponding preinfection sera. Nucleic acid sequence for all clones defined a single open reading frame contiguous with the lambda gt11-expressed beta-galactosidase protein. Only oligonucleotide probes specific for the positive strand (defined by the open reading frame) hybridized to an RNaseA-sensitive, DNaseI-resistant nucleic acid sequence extracted from Norwalk-infected stool. Furthermore, RNA extracted from serial postinfection, but not preinfection, stools from three of five volunteers hybridized to a Norwalk virus cDNA probe. Clone-specific oligonucleotide probes hybridized with cesium chloride gradient fractions containing purified Norwalk virion. In conclusion, an antigenic, protein-coding region of the Norwalk virus genome has been identified. This epitope has potential utility in future sero- and molecular epidemiologic studies of Norwalk viral gastroenteritis.

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