Avian papillomaviruses: the parrot Psittacus erithacus papillomavirus (PePV) genome has a unique organization of the early protein region and is phylogenetically related to the chaffinch papillomavirus
BACKGROUND: An avian papillomavirus genome has been cloned from a cutaneous exophytic papilloma from an African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus). The nucleotide sequence, genome organization, and phylogenetic position of the Psittacus erithacus papillomavirus (PePV) were determined. This PePV sequence represents the first complete avian papillomavirus genome defined. RESULTS: The PePV genome (7304 basepairs) differs from other papillomaviruses, in that it has a unique organization of the early protein region lacking classical E6 and E7 open reading frames. Phylogenetic comparison of the PePV sequence with partial E1 and L1 sequences of the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) papillomavirus (FPV) reveals that these two avian papillomaviruses form a monophyletic cluster with a common branch that originates near the unresolved center of the papillomavirus evolutionary tree. CONCLUSIONS: The PePV genome has a unique layout of the early protein region which represents a novel prototypic genomic organization for avian papillomaviruses. The close relationship between PePV and FPV, and between their Psittaciformes and Passeriformes hosts, supports the hypothesis that papillomaviruses have co-evolved and speciated together with their host species throughout evolution.