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Virus Genes. 2012 Feb;44(1):63-74. doi: 10.1007/s11262-011-0668-7. Epub 2011 Sep 10.

Changes in nonstructural protein 3 are associated with attenuation in avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus.

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Department of Population Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


Full-length genome sequencing of pathogenic and attenuated (for chickens) avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) strains of the same serotype was conducted to identify genetic differences between the pathotypes. Analysis of the consensus full-length genome for three different IBV serotypes (Ark, GA98, and Mass41) showed that passage in embryonated eggs, to attenuate the viruses for chickens, resulted in 34.75-43.66% of all the amino acid changes occurring in nsp 3 within a virus type, whereas changes in the spike glycoprotein, thought to be the most variable protein in IBV, ranged from 5.8 to 13.4% of all changes. The attenuated viruses did not cause any clinical signs of disease and had lower replication rates than the pathogenic viruses of the same serotype in chickens. However, both attenuated and pathogenic viruses of the same serotype replicated similarly in embryonated eggs, suggesting that mutations in nsp 3, which is involved in replication of the virus, might play an important role in the reduced replication observed in chickens leading to the attenuated phenotype.

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