Genetically highly divergent RNA virus with astrovirus-like (5′-end) and hepevirus-like (3′-end) genome organization in carnivorous birds, European roller (Coracias garrulus)

Péter Pankovics, Ákos Boros, Tamás Kiss, Péter Engelmann, Gábor Reuter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Astroviruses (family Astroviridae) and hepeviruses (family Hepeviridae) are small, non-enveloped viruses with genetically diverse +ssRNA genome thought to be enteric pathogens infecting vertebrates including humans. Recently, many novel astro- and hepatitis E virus-like +ssRNA viruses have been described from lower vertebrate species. The non-structural proteins of astro- and hepeviruses are highly diverse, but the structural/capsid proteins represent a common phylogenetic position shed the light of their common origin by inter-viral recombination. In this study, a novel astrovirus/hepevirus-like virus with +ssRNA genome (Er/SZAL5/HUN/2011, MK450332) was serendipitously identified and characterized from 3 (8.5%) out of 35 European roller (Coracias garrulus) faecal samples by RT-PCR in Hungary. The complete genome of Er/SZAL5/HUN/2011 (MK450332) is 8402 nt-long and potentially composed three non-overlapping open reading frames (ORFs): ORF1a (4449 nt/1482aa), ORF1b (1206 nt/401aa) and ORF2 (1491 nt/496aa). The ORF1ab has an astrovirus-like genome organization containing the non-structural conserved elements (TM, CC, NLS, VPg) and enzyme residues (trypsine-like protease, RNA-dependent RNA-polymerase) with low amino acid sequence identity, 15% (ORF1a) and 44% (ORF1b), to astroviruses. Supposedly the ORF2 is a capsid protein but neither the astrovirus-like subgenomic RNA promoter (sgRNA) nor the astrovirus-like capsid characteristics have been identifiable. However, the predicted capsid protein (ORF2) showed 26% identity to the corresponding protein of hepevirus-like novel Rana hepevirus (MH330682). This novel +ssRNA virus strain Er/SZAL5/HUN/2011 with astrovirus-like genome organization in the non-structural genome regions (ORF1a and ORF1b) and Rana hepevirus-related capsid (ORF2) protein represent a potentially recombinant virus species and supports the common origin hypothesis, although, the taxonomic position of the studied virus is still under discussion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-223
Number of pages9
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Astrovirus
  • European roller
  • Hepatitis E virus
  • Rana hepevirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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