Based on sequencing data, norovirus (NoV) recombinants have been described, but no experimental evidence of recombination in NoVs has been documented. Using the murine norovirus (MNV) model, we investigated the occurrence of genetic recombination between two co-infecting wild-type MNV isolates in RAW cells. The design of a PCR-based genotyping tool allowed accurate discrimination between the parental genomes and the detection of a viable recombinant MNV (Rec MNV) in the progeny viruses. Genetic analysis of Rec MNV identified a homologous-recombination event located at the ORF1–ORF2 overlap. Rec MNV exhibited distinct growth curves and produced smaller plaques than the wild-type MNV in RAW cells. Here, we demonstrate experimentally that MNV undergoes homologous recombination at the previously described recombination hot spot for NoVs, suggesting that the MNV model might be suitable for studies of NoV recombination. Moreover, the results show that exchange of genetic material between NoVs can generate viruses with distinct biological properties from the parental viruses.


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vol. , part 11, pp. 2723–2733

Primers and probes used in the TaqMan-based discriminative PCR distinguishing between MNV-1 and WU20 [ PDF] (72 KB)


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