Journal of General Virology vol:83 issue:Pt 8 pages:1875-85
Montana Myotis leukoencephalitis virus (MMLV), a virus isolated from bats, causes an encephalitis in small rodents reminiscent of flavivirus encephalitis in humans. The complete MMLV genome is 10690 nucleotides long and encodes a putative polyprotein of 3374 amino acids. The virus contains the same conserved motifs in genes that are believed to be interesting antiviral targets (NTPase/helicase, serine protease and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase) as flaviviruses of clinical importance. Phylogenetic analysis of the entire coding region has confirmed the classification of MMLV in the clade of the flaviviruses with no known vector (NKV) and within this clade to the Rio Bravo branch (both viruses have the bat as their vertebrate host). We have provided for the first time a comparative analysis of the RNA folding of the 3' UTR of the NKV flaviviruses (Modoc, Rio Bravo and Apoi viruses, in addition to MMLV). Structural elements in the 3' UTR that are preserved among other flaviviruses have been revealed, as well as elements that distinguish the NKV from the mosquito- and tick-borne flaviviruses. In particular, the pentanucleotide sequence 5' CACAG 3', which is conserved in all mosquito- and tick-borne flaviviruses, is replaced by the sequence 5' C(C/U)(C/U)AG 3' in the loop of the 3' long stable hairpin structure of all four NKV flaviviruses. The availability of this latter sequence motif allows us to designate a virus as either an NKV or a vector-borne flavivirus.