Divergent hepatitis E virus in birds of prey, common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and red-footed falcon (F. vespertinus), Hungary

Gábor Reuter, Ákos Boros, Róbert Mátics, Beatrix Kapusinszky, Eric Delwart, Péter Pankovics

Research output: Article

26 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatitis E virus (HEV), family Hepeviridae, has raised considerable public health concerns because of its zoonotic potential; however, the animal to animal transmissions and the natural chain of hepevirus infections in wildlife are less known. Using random amplification and next generation sequencing technology a novel HEV in birds of prey was serendipitously identified in Hungary. HEV RNA was detected in total of 2 (18%) of the 11 and 1 (14%) of the 7 faecal samples from common kestrels and red-footed falcons, respectively. High faecal viral load (2.03 × 108 genomic copies/ml) measured by qPCR. The complete genome of strain kestrel/MR22/2014/HUN (KU670940) HEV is 7033-nt long including a 35-nt 5'end and a 63-nt 3'end (excluding the poly(A)-tail). Sequence analyses indicated that the ORF1 (4920 nt/639 aa), ORF2 (1989 nt/662 aa) and ORF3 (360 nt/119aa) proteins of kestrel/MR22/2014/HUN shared the highest identity (58.1%, 66.8% and 28.5%) to the corresponding proteins of ferret, rat and human genotype 4 Orthohepeviruses, respectively. Interestingly, the ORF3 protein is potentially initiated with leucine (L) using an alternate, non-AUG (UUG) start codon. This study reports the identification and complete genome characterization of a novel Orthohepevirus species related to mammalian HEVs in birds of prey. It is important to recognize all potential hosts, reservoirs and spreaders in nature and to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of hepeviruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-346
Number of pages4
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - szept. 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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