The isolation and characterization of two avian polyomaviruses, from chicken (BFDV-2) and a parrot (BFDV-3), is reported. Both isolates are closely related to the non-mammalian polyomavirus budgerigar fledgling disease virus (BFDV) isolated from budgerigars (now called BFDV-1), and all three viral genomes are shown to have the same basic size of 4981 bp. A 151 bp insertion was, however, observed in the non-coding region of BFDV-2 which represented an exact duplication of the left half of the non-coding region, including the putative early promoter and amino terminus of the large T antigen. With a further 15 base pairs exchanged elsewhere throughout the three genomes, these viruses have distinct degrees of tropism for various avian species. The production of antibodies directed against a β-galactosidase-large T antigen fusion protein of BFDV-1 is described. These antibodies detected the large T antigen, with an of approximately 80K, and the small t antigen, with an of approximately 24K, in cells infected with BFDV isolates. Whereas these antibodies bind with low affinity to the large T antigen of simian virus 40 (SV40), SV40- or mouse polyomavirus-specific antibodies will not bind to the BFDV large T antigen. Antibodies directed against BFDV structural polypeptides exhibit broad, reciprocal cross-reactivities with all three structural proteins of mammalian polyomaviruses. The significance of polyomavirus infections in various avian species is discussed. Based on unique structural and biological properties we propose that these viruses should be placed in a distinct subgenus (Avipolyomavirus) within the polyomaviruses.


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