Human stool contains a previously unrecognized diversity of novel astroviruses

Stacy R. Finkbeiner, Lori R. Holtz, Yanfang Jiang, Priya Rajendran, Carl J. Franz, Guoyan Zhao, Gagandeep Kang, David Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations

Abstract

Human astroviruses are a leading cause of gastrointestinal disease. Since their discovery in 1975, 8 closely related serotypes have been described in humans, and more recently, two new astrovirus species, astrovirus MLB1 and astrovirus VA1, were identified in diarrhea patients. In this study, we used consensus astrovirus primers targeting the RNA polymerase to define the diversity of astroviruses present in pediatric patients with diarrhea on two continents. From 416 stool specimens comprising two different cohorts from Vellore, India, 35 samples were positive. These positive samples were analyzed further by either sequencing of the ∼400 bp amplicon generated by the consensus PCR or by performing additional RT-PCR specific for individual astroviruses. 19 samples contained the classic human astrovirus serotypes 1-8 while 7 samples were positive for the recently described astrovirus MLB1. Strikingly, from samples that were positive in the consensus PCR screen but negative in the specific PCR assays, five samples contained sequences that were highly divergent from all previously described astroviruses. Sequence analysis suggested that three novel astroviruses, tentatively named astroviruses VA2, MLB2 and VA3, were present in these five patient specimens (AstV-VA2 in 2 patients, AstV-MLB2 in 2 patients and AstV-VA3 in one patient). Using the same RT-PCR screening strategy, 13 samples out of 466 tested stool specimens collected in St. Louis, USA were positive. Nine samples were positive for the classic human astroviruses. One sample was positive for AstV-VA2, and 3 samples were positive for AstV-MLB2 demonstrating that these two viruses are globally widespread. Collectively, these findings underscore the tremendous diversity of astroviruses present in fecal specimens from diarrhea patients. Given that a significant fraction of diarrhea etiologies is currently unknown, it is plausible that these or other yet unrecognized astroviruses may be responsible for at least part of the undiagnosed cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number161
JournalVirology Journal
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

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