A 1622 nucleotide region of the bovine ephemeral fever virus (BEFV) genome, located between the second glycoprotein (GNS) gene and the polymerase (L) gene, has been cloned and sequenced in Australian (BB7721) and Chinese (Beijing-1) isolates of the virus. In the Australian isolate, the region contains five long open reading frames (ORFs) organized into three coding regions (alpha, beta and gamma), each of which are bound by a consensus transcription initiation and transcription termination-polyadenylation-like sequences. The alpha coding region contains three long ORFs (alpha 1, alpha 2 and alpha 3). The alpha 1 ORF encodes a 10.6 kDa polypeptide which contains hydrophobic and highly basic regions characteristic of a viroporin. The alpha 2 ORF encodes a 13.7 kDa polypeptide and overlaps the alpha 3 ORF which encodes a 5.7 kDa polypeptide. The beta coding region contains a single long ORF encoding a polypeptide of 12.2 kDa. The gamma coding region, which does not occur in Adelaide River virus (ARV), contains a single long ORF encoding a polypeptide of 13.4 kDa. The Chinese isolate shares 91% nucleotide sequence identity with the Australian isolate. The organization of the alpha, beta and gamma coding regions is preserved and the sequences of the encoded polypeptides are similar to those of BB7721. The major transcription products of the region were identified in BB7721 as polycistronic alpha (alpha 1-alpha 2-alpha 3) and beta-gamma mRNAs. Sequence similarities in the BEFV alpha-beta and beta-gamma gene junctions, and the gamma-L and beta-L gene junctions of BEFV and ARV, suggest that the gamma gene may have evolved from the beta-gene by sequence duplication.


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