In the 3' non-coding region of the genomes of infectious bronchitis virus, an avian coronavirus and the picornavirus equine rhinovirus serotype 2, there is a motif with remarkable similarity, both in sequence and folding, to the second RNA stem-loop from the 3' end of the genomes of human astroviruses. This motif was also found in astroviruses of sheep, pig and turkey, suggesting that it is a common feature of all astroviruses. The conserved nature of the motif indicates that there has been strong selection for its preservation. There is significant homology between the regions flanking this motif in infectious bronchitis virus and a continuous RNA sequence at the same distance from the 3' poly(A) tail in some related mammalian coronaviruses. These observations suggest that the presence of the motif in these three viral families is the result of at least two separate RNA recombination events.


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