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J Gen Virol. 2014 Mar;95(Pt 3):601-13. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.061960-0. Epub 2013 Dec 11.

Characterization of a new picornavirus isolated from the freshwater fish Lepomis macrochirus.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, 1725 State Street, La Crosse, WI, 54601, USA.


The freshwater fish Lepomis macrochirus (bluegill) is common to North American waters, and important both ecologically and as a sport fish. In 2001 an unknown virus was isolated from bluegills following a bluegill fish kill. This virus was identified as a picornavirus [termed bluegill picornavirus (BGPV)] and a diagnostic reverse transcriptase PCR was developed. A survey of bluegills in Wisconsin waters showed the presence of BGPV in 5 of 17 waters sampled, suggesting the virus is widespread in bluegill populations. Experimental infections of bluegills confirmed that BGPV can cause morbidity and mortality in bluegills. Molecular characterization of BGPV revealed several distinct genome characteristics, the most unusual of which is the presence of a short poly(C) tract in the 3' UTR. Additionally, the genome encodes a polyprotein lacking a leader peptide and a VP0 maturation cleavage site, and is predicted to encode two distinct 2A proteins. Sequence comparison showed that the virus is most closely related to a phylogenetic cluster of picornaviruses that includes the genera Aquamavirus, Avihepatovirus and Parechovirus. However, it is distinct enough, for example sharing only about 38% sequence identity to the parechoviruses in the 3D region, that it may represent a new genus in the family Picornaviridae.

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