Astrovirus infections mainly cause acute gastroenteritis in children and young animals. Human astroviruses are well characterized antigenically and genetically. However, information on turkey astroviruses is limited. We isolated two astroviruses (TAstV1987 and TAstV2001) from turkeys and classified them as two different serotypes using a virus neutralization test. To elucidate the differences between these two isolates at the molecular level, further genetic characterization and sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis were carried out. The sequences of the complete capsid protein gene of these two isolates were obtained by cloning and sequencing. The percentage nucleotide and predicted amino acid identities for these two sequences along with those of 16 other capsid protein gene sequences from human and animal astroviruses retrieved from GenBank were calculated using MegAlign. The results showed that TAstV1987 and TAstV2001 had 73.3% nucleotide and 82.8% amino acid identities, respectively. An unrooted Neighbor-joining phylogenetic tree of these sequences was generated using MEGA 3 software with 1000 bootstrap replicates. The results of evolutionary analysis showed that TAstV1987 was closely related genetically to another virus, designated TAstV-2, whereas TAstV2001 was not as close to TAstV-2 as TAstV1987. The analysis of the capsid proteins of the two viruses by SDS-PAGE revealed that they had different band patterns, indicating that their capsid proteins consisted of different viral proteins. The findings in this study revealed the molecular differences in the capsid protein gene of TAstV1987 and TAstV2001, which may provide the molecular basis of the antigenic differences between these two serotypes of turkey astroviruses.
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Vol. 49 • No. 4