The nucleotide sequence of the small (S) RNA segment of Akabane (AKA) bunyavirus was determined. The segment is 858 nucleotides long and contains two overlapping open reading frames (ORFs), which encode the nucleocapsid (N) and nonstructural (NSs) proteins, consistent with other bunyaviruses. Comparisons with the Aino virus S RNA sequence indicated that there is 73.5% identity in nucleotide sequence. However, the sequence identity of the 5' non-coding region of the genomic RNA between these two viruses is only 55%. The N ORFs from 20 Japanese and 2 Australian isolates of AKA virus were sequenced and subjected to phylogenetic analysis. This suggested that AKA virus has evolved in multiple lineages. Twenty-three isolates were grouped into three major clusters, and the cluster which includes recent isolates was subdivided into two branches. Thus, phylogenetic analysis of the AKA virus N protein gene gives a greater insight into bunyavirus evolution.


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