The three avian polyomaviruses budgerigar fledgling disease virus types 1 to 3 (BFDV-1 to -3) contain genomes of identical size, 4981 bp. With differences of up to only 15 bp between the three genomes, these viruses show distinct tropism for cultured cells of various avian species: infection of chicken embryo (CE) cells with BFDV-1 and -2 results in virus propagation, whereas BFDV-3 is not replicated; all three viruses replicate, with different efficiencies, in infected Muscovy duck cells. Transfection of CE cells with BFDV-3 DNA results in a single productive cycle. As shown by construction of hybrid virus genomes and site-directed mutagenesis, a single amino acid difference (glycine instead of valine or alanine) within the common region of the minor structural proteins VP2/VP3 is responsible for this type of abortive infection of CE cells. Further experiments indicate a defect in one of the early steps during infection, at or prior to uncoating.


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