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Virus Res. 1999 May;61(1):87-98.

Recombination between North American strains of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.

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Department of Veterinary PathoBiology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108, USA.


Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), a recently discovered arterivirus swine pathogen, was shown to undergo homologous recombination. Co-infection of MA-104 cells with two culture-adapted North American PRRSV strains resulted in recombinant viral particles containing chimeric ORF 3 and ORF 4 proteins. Nucleotide sequence analysis of cloned recombinant PCR products, encompassing 1182 bases of the 15.4 kb viral genome, revealed six independent recombination events. Recombinant products persisted in culture for at least three passages, indicating continuous formation of recombinant viruses, growth of recombinant viruses in competition with parental viruses, or both. The frequency of recombination was estimated from <2% up to 10% in the 1182 b fragment analyzed, which is similar to recombination frequencies observed in coronaviruses. An apparent example of natural ORF 5 recombination between naturally occurring wild type viruses was also found, indicating that recombination is likely an important genetic mechanism contributing to PRRSV evolution.

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