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Virus Res. 2006 Sep;120(1-2):36-48.

Third genome size category of avian paramyxovirus serotype 1 (Newcastle disease virus) and evolutionary implications.

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Veterinary Medical Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, PO Box 18, Budapest 1581, Hungary.


The goal of the study was to establish if there was a relationship between molecular patterns and virus evolution. Therefore the complete genome sequence of two distinct apathogenic Newcastle disease virus (NDV) strains was determined and a third genome size category, containing 15,198 nucleotides, was recognized. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that two major separations resulting in three genome size categories occurred during the history of NDV. An ancient division in the primordial reservoir (wild waterbird species) led to two basal sister clades, class I and II, with genome sizes 15,198 (due to a 12 nucleotide insert in the phosphoprotein gene) and 15,186 nucleotides, respectively. Ancestors of only class II viruses colonized chicken populations and subsequently converted to virulent forms. These took place more than once and resulted in an early lineage [including genotypes I-IV and H33(W)] with genome size of 15,186 nucleotides. A second division occurred in the 20th century in the secondary (chicken) host. This gave rise to the branching-off of a clade (including recent genotypes V-VIII consisting of only pathogenic viruses) with the concomitant insertion of six nucleotides into the 5' non-coding region of the nucleoprotein gene thereby increasing the genome size to 15,192 nucleotides.

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