The complete RNA genome sequence of the archetype reptilian paramyxovirus, Fer-de-Lance virus (FDLV), has been determined. The genome is 15,378 nucleotides in length and consists of seven nonoverlapping genes in the order 3??? N-U-P-M-F-HN-L 5???, coding for the nucleocapsid, unknown, phospho-, matrix, fusion, hemagglutinin-neuraminidase, and large polymerase proteins, respectively. The gene junctions contain highly conserved transcription start and stop signal sequences and tri-nucleotide intergenic regions similar to those of other Paramyxoviridae. The FDLV P gene expression strategy is like that of rubulaviruses, which express the accessory V protein from the primary transcript and edit a portion of the mRNA to encode P and I proteins. There is also an overlapping open reading frame potentially encoding a small basic protein in the P gene. The gene designated U (unknown), encodes a deduced protein of 19.4 kDa that has no counterpart in other paramyxoviruses and has no similarity with sequences in the National Center for Biotechnology Information database. Active transcription of the U gene in infected cells was demonstrated by Northern blot analysis, and bicistronic N-U mRNA was also evident. The genomes of two other snake paramyxovirus genotypes were also found to have U genes, with 11 to 16% nucleotide divergence from the FDLV U gene. Pairwise comparisons of amino acid identities and phylogenetic analyses of all deduced FDLV protein sequences with homologous sequences from other Paramyxoviridae indicate that FDLV represents a new genus within the subfamily Paramyxovirinae. We suggest the name Ferlavirus for the new genus, with FDLV as the type species.
Additional publication details
Complete Genome Sequence of Fer-de-Lance Virus Reveals a Novel Gene in Reptilian Paramyxoviruses