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Open Access Short report

Malpais spring virus is a new species in the genus vesiculovirus

Nikos Vasilakis123*, Steven Widen4, Amelia PA Travassos da Rosa1, Thomas G Wood4, Peter J Walker5, Edward C Holmes67 and Robert B Tesh123

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-0609, TX, USA

2 Center for Tropical Diseases, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-0609, TX, USA

3 Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch, 77555-0610, Galveston, TX, USA

4 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch, 77555-0679, Galveston, TX, USA

5 CSIRO Animal, Food and Health Sciences, Australian Animal Health Laboratory, VIC 3220, Geelong, Australia

6 Sydney Emerging Infections & Biosecurity Institute, School of Biological Sciences and Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, 2006, Sydney, NSW, Australia

7 Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Virology Journal 2013, 10:69  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-69

Published: 4 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Malpais Spring virus (MSPV) is a mosquito-borne rhabdovirus that infects a variety of wild and feral ungulates in New Mexico, including horses and deer. Although, initial serologic tests and electron microscopy at the time of isolation nearly 25 years ago provided evidence that MSPV is a novel virus, possibly related to vesiculoviruses, the virus still has not been approved as a new species.

Findings

Use of the illumina platform allowed us to obtain the complete genome of MSPV. Analysis of the complete 11019 nt genome sequence of the prototype 85-488NM strain of MSPV indicates that it encodes the five common rhabdovirus structural proteins (N, P, M, G and L) with alternative ORFs (> 180 nt) in the N, M and G genes, including a 249 nt ORF in the G gene predicted to encode a 9.26 kDa highly basic transmembrane protein. Although antigenically very distant, phylogenetic analysis of the L gene indicates that MSPV is most closely related to Jurona virus, also isolated from mosquitoes in Brazil, as well as a number of other vesiculoviruses.

Conclusions

In sum, our analysis indicates MSPV should be classified as a member of the genus Vesiculovirus, family Rhabdoviridae. The complete genome sequence of MSPV will be helpful in the development of a reverse genetics system to study the unique aspects of this vesiculovirus in vivo and in vitro, and will assist development of specific diagnostic tests to study the epidemiology of MSPV infection.

Keywords:
Malpais spring virus (MSPV); Family rhabdoviridae; Genus vesiculovirus; Genome sequence; Phylogeny