Rotaviruses isolated from chronically infected immunodeficient children were previously shown to contain RNA yielding abnormal migration profiles on gels: normal RNA segments were lost or decreased in concentration, and additional bands of dsRNA were found which were derived (rearranged) from genome segments of lower molecular weight by concatemer formation. These viruses grew very slowly during passage in secondary rhesus monkey kidney cells. Upon superinfection with the tissue culture-adapted UK Compton strain of bovine rotavirus (BRV) extensive genome reassortment occurred. Clones with the following reassorted genome patterns were isolated: (i) RNA segments 5 or 6 of BRV were replaced by the corresponding RNA segments of human rotavirus; (ii) RNA segments 9 or 11 of BRV were replaced by different rearranged bands of RNA of human rotavirus; (iii) reassortants were observed containing more than one segment/rearranged band of human rotavirus RNA in different combinations. The reassortant viruses possessed functional proteins coded for by the genome segments and/or by rearranged bands of RNA of the human rotaviruses. Rearrangement of parts of the rotavirus genome may be a mechanism of evolution of these viruses.


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