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J Virol. 2012 Mar;86(5):2797-808. doi: 10.1128/JVI.05481-11. Epub 2011 Dec 28.

Natural occurrence and characterization of two internal ribosome entry site elements in a novel virus, canine picodicistrovirus, in the picornavirus-like superfamily.

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State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.


Dicistroviridae and Picornaviridae are two phylogenetically related families of positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses in the picornavirus-like superfamily with similar gene contents but different genome organizations and hosts. In a surveillance study involving 1,472 samples from 368 dogs over a 22-month period, we identified a novel picornavirus-like virus from 47 fecal and urine samples by the use of reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). Sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of three complete genomes revealed that, although it seemed that the virus was most closely related to other picornaviruses, P1, P2, and P3 of the virus possessed very low amino acid identities of <30% to those of all other known picornaviruses and that the amino acid identities between the 3D(pol) and 2C of the virus and the RNA-dependent RNA polymerases and helicases of all other picornaviruses were <35%. Distinct from other picornaviruses, the genomes of the virus contain two putative internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) and two open reading frames, encoding two polyprotein precursors (844 and 1,406 amino acids), separated by an intergenic region (IGR) of 588 bases. A dual-luciferase activity assay using DNA and RNA transfection revealed that both IRESs were functional. Quantitative RT-PCR showed that numbers of viral RNAs ranged from 7.55 × 10(6) to 1.26 × 10(9) copies/ml of urine and 1.82 × 10(6) to 4.97 × 10(10) copies/ml of fecal sample. This is the first report of the natural occurrence of two functional IRESs in nondicistroviruses. Based on our results, we have proposed a novel species, canine picodicistrovirus (CPDV), to describe this novel member of the picornavirus-like superfamily, which could represent a novel family of viruses.

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