Borna disease virus (BDV) is an infectious agent that causes profound disturbances in motor function and behaviour in a wide range of animal species and possibly humans. The infectious nature of BDV has long been established, but the aetiological agent has not been isolated or classified. Recently, we have reported the isolation of BDV-specific cDNA clones using subtractive libraries constructed from mRNA from infected material. Here we describe studies on one of these cDNA clones, B8, and confirm its specificity by hybridization on sections of BDV-infected brain. The complete nucleotide sequence of BDV-specific clone B8 was determined. Oligonucleotides of positive and negative polarity synthesized from sequences from the 5′ and 3′ ends, as well as the central part, of clone B8 identified both positive- and negative-strand BDV-specific RNAs in infected rat brain. All B8 sequences used as oligonucleotide probes were found to be contained in the larger positive- and negative-strand RNAs. Thus, the structure of the BDV-specific RNAs appears to be a nested set of multiple, overlapping subgenomic positive- and negative-strand RNA transcripts.


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