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Virology. 2018 Nov;524:160-171. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2018.08.010. Epub 2018 Sep 7.

Description and initial characterization of metatranscriptomic nidovirus-like genomes from the proposed new family Abyssoviridae, and from a sister group to the Coronavirinae, the proposed genus Alphaletovirus.

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University of Reading, Reading, UK.
Dept. Medical Microbiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.
Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Science, Chengdu, China.
Texas A&M University-Texarkana, 7101 University Ave, Texarkana, TX 75503, United States. Electronic address:


Transcriptomics has the potential to discover new RNA virus genomes by sequencing total intracellular RNA pools. In this study, we have searched publicly available transcriptomes for sequences similar to viruses of the Nidovirales order. We report two potential nidovirus genomes, a highly divergent 35.9 kb likely complete genome from the California sea hare Aplysia californica, which we assign to a nidovirus named Aplysia abyssovirus 1 (AAbV), and a coronavirus-like 22.3 kb partial genome from the ornamented pygmy frog Microhyla fissipes, which we assign to a nidovirus named Microhyla alphaletovirus 1 (MLeV). AAbV was shown to encode a functional main proteinase, and a translational readthrough signal. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that AAbV represents a new family, proposed here as Abyssoviridae. MLeV represents a sister group to the other known coronaviruses. The importance of MLeV and AAbV for understanding nidovirus evolution, and the origin of terrestrial nidoviruses are discussed.


Nidovirales; Protease; Protein expression; Proteinase; Readthrough; Transcriptome; Translation; Virus discovery

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