Canonical human astroviruses (HAstVs) are important enteric pathogens that can be classified genetically and antigenically into eight types. Sequence analysis of small diagnostic regions at either the 5′ or 3′ end of ORF2 (capsid precursor) is a good proxy for prediction of HAstV types and for distinction of intratypic genetic lineages (subtypes), although lineage diversification/classification has not been investigated systematically. Upon sequence and phylogenetic analysis of the full-length ORF2 of 86 HAstV strains selected from the databases, a detailed classification of HAstVs into lineages was established. Three main lineages could be defined in HAstV-1, four in HAstV-2, two in HAstV-3, three in HAstV-4, three in HAstV-5 and two in HAstV-6. Intratypic (inter-lineages) ORF2 recombinant strains were identified in type 1 (1b/1d) and type 2 (2c/2b) with distinct crossover points. Other potential intratypic recombinant strains were identified in type 3, type 5 and type 6. In addition, a type-1b strain with a large insertion (~600 bp) of heterologous RNA in the N-terminal region and a type-6 strain with a large RNA rearrangement in the hypervariable region were identified. The classification scheme was integrated in a novel nomenclature system suitable for designation of HAstV strains.
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