The complete nucleotide sequence of the genomic RNA from the insect picorna-like virus Drosophila C virus (DCV) was determined. The DCV sequence predicts a genome organization different to that of other RNA virus families whose sequences are known. The single-stranded positive-sense genomic RNA is 9264 nucleotides in length and contains two large open reading frames (ORFs) which are separated by 191 nucleotides. The 5' ORF contains regions of similarities with the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, helicase and protease domains of viruses from the picornavirus, comovirus and sequivirus families. The 3' ORF encodes the capsid proteins as confirmed by N-terminal sequence analysis of these proteins. The capsid protein coding region is unusual in two ways: firstly the cistron appears to lack an initiating methionine and secondly no subgenomic RNA is produced, suggesting that the proteins may be translated through internal initiation of translation from the genomic length RNA. The finding of this novel genome organization for DCV shows that this virus is not a member of the Picornaviridae as previously thought, but belongs to a distinct and hitherto unrecognized virus family.


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