The 3′ end of the turkey coronavirus (TCV) genome and the gene encoding the nucleocapsid protein (N) were cloned and sequenced. The gene encoding the membrane protein (M) was obtained by cloning a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified fragment obtained using bovine coronavirus (BCV)-specific primers. Furthermore, five TCV DNA fragments, obtained by PCR on RNA from clinical specimens and corresponding to either the N terminus of the M protein or the complete M protein were also cloned and sequenced. The sequence revealed a 3′ non-coding region of 291 bases, an open reading frame (ORF) encoding the N protein with a predicted size of 448 amino acids, or an of 49K, and an ORF encoding the M protein with a predicted size of 230 amino acids and an of 26K. A third ORF, encoding a hypothetical protein of 207 amino acids with an of 23K was found within the N gene sequence. The amino acid sequences of both the N and M proteins were more than 99% similar to those published for BCV. Extensive similarity was also observed between the amino acid sequences of the TCV N protein and those of murine hepatitis virus (MHV) (70%) and human respiratory coronavirus strain OC43 (HCV-OC43) (98%) and between the amino acid sequences of the predicted M proteins of TCV and MHV (86%). Such striking identity suggests that BCV, TCV and HCV-OC43 must have diverged from each other only recently. A potential -glycosylation site was found at the N terminus of the TCV M protein and is situated at the same location in BCV, MHV and transmissible gastroenteritis virus.


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