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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Conservation of amino acid sequence of VP8 and cleavage region of 84-kDa outer capsid protein among rotaviruses recovered from asymptomatic neonatal infection.

Within the past few years, rotavirus strains were recovered from four discrete prolonged outbreaks of infection in newborn nurseries in which affected infants failed to develop significant symptoms. The virus strains recovered from each outbreak belonged to a different human rotavirus serotype and thus each of the four human rotavirus serotypes was associated with asymptomatic infection of neonates. Marked conservation of sequence was observed among the fourth genes of the nursery rotavirus strains in a previous study using RNA X RNA hybridization, while a different conserved set of fourth gene sequences was identified among virulent human rotaviruses representing the four known serotypes. In the present study, this sequence dimorphism was further evaluated by comparing the sequence of the region of the fourth gene of virulent and asymptomatic human rotaviruses that codes for the VP8 protein, downstream cleavage sites, and the NH2 terminus of VP5. The corresponding sequences of a simian rotavirus were also determined. The fourth segment (+) strand RNA has a 5' conserved nontranslated sequence of nine nucleotides and encodes a VP8 protein of 240 amino acids in human rotavirus strains and 241 amino acids in simian rotavirus strains. Human and simian rotaviruses exhibit many similarities in this region of their genome, including identical NH2-terminal amino acid sequences, conservation of arginine at the two trypsin cleavage sites, and the position of a cysteine residue. Alignment of amino acid sequences of the VP8 protein, the downstream cleavage region, and the NH2 terminus of VP5 of asymptomatic and virulent human rotavirus strains indicates a high degree of homology (96% or more) among the asymptomatic viruses (serotypes 1, 2, 3, and 4), while homology between asymptomatic strains and virulent viruses is considerably less (68-72%). A high degree of conservation of amino acid sequence (92-97%) is also observed among three of the virulent strains (serotypes 1, 3, and 4). At 48 positions in the protein sequence of VP8, the cleavage region, and the NH2 terminus of VP5, an amino acid is conserved among asymptomatic rotaviruses, while a different amino acid is conserved among virulent rotaviruses. Notably, three of these differences are located within the cleavage region between VP8 and VP5. These findings suggest that the fourth genes of virulent and asymptomatic human rotavirus strains represent two lines of divergent evolution from a common ancestor. Also, it is possible that this sequence dimorphism may be responsible in part for the difference in virulence between these two groups of human rotaviruses.[1]


  1. Conservation of amino acid sequence of VP8 and cleavage region of 84-kDa outer capsid protein among rotaviruses recovered from asymptomatic neonatal infection. Gorziglia, M., Hoshino, Y., Buckler-White, A., Blumentals, I., Glass, R., Flores, J., Kapikian, A.Z., Chanock, R.M. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1986) [Pubmed]
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