Journal Article
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
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Upolu virus and Aransas Bay virus, two presumptive bunyaviruses, are novel members of the family Orthomyxoviridae.

UNLABELLED: Emerging and zoonotic pathogens pose continuing threats to human health and ongoing challenges to diagnostics. As nucleic acid tests are playing increasingly prominent roles in diagnostics, the genetic characterization of molecularly uncharacterized agents is expected to significantly enhance detection and surveillance capabilities. We report the identification of two previously unrecognized members of the family Orthomyxoviridae, which includes the influenza viruses and the tick-transmitted Thogoto and Dhori viruses. We provide morphological, serologic, and genetic evidence that Upolu virus (UPOV) from Australia and Aransas Bay virus (ABV) from North America, both previously considered potential bunyaviruses based on electron microscopy and physicochemical features, are orthomyxoviruses instead. Their genomes show up to 68% nucleotide sequence identity to Thogoto virus (segment 2; ∼74% at the amino acid level) and a more distant relationship to Dhori virus, the two prototype viruses of the recognized species of the genus Thogotovirus. Despite sequence similarity, the coding potentials of UPOV and ABV differed from that of Thogoto virus, instead being like that of Dhori virus. Our findings suggest that the tick-transmitted viruses UPOV and ABV represent geographically distinct viruses in the genus Thogotovirus of the family Orthomyxoviridae that do not fit in the two currently recognized species of this genus.

IMPORTANCE: Upolu virus (UPOV) and Aransas Bay virus (ABV) are shown to be orthomyxoviruses instead of bunyaviruses, as previously thought. Genetic characterization and adequate classification of agents are paramount in this molecular age to devise appropriate surveillance and diagnostics. Although more closely related to Thogoto virus by sequence, UPOV and ABV differ in their coding potentials by lacking a proposed pathogenicity factor. In this respect, they are similar to Dhori virus, which, despite the lack of a pathogenicity factor, can cause disease. These findings enable further studies into the evolution and pathogenicity of orthomyxoviruses.

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