In 1998, Nipah virus (NV) emerged in peninsular Malaysia, causing fatal encephalitis in humans and a respiratory disease in swine. NV is most closely related to Hendra virus (HV) a paramyxovirus that was identified in Australia in 1994, and it has been proposed that HV and NV represent a new genus within the family Paramyxoviridae. This report describes the analysis of the sequences of the polymerase gene (L) and genomic termini of NV as well as a comparison of the full-length, genomic sequences of HV and NV. The L gene of NV is predicted to be 2244 amino acids in size and contains the six domains found within the L proteins of all nonsegmented, negative-stranded (NNS) RNA viruses. However, the GDNQ motif found in most NNS RNA viruses was replaced by GDNE in both NV and HV. The 3′ and 5′ termini of the NV genome are nearly identical to the genomic termini of HV and share sequence homology with the genomic termini of other members of the subfamily Paramyxovirinae. At 18,246 nucleotides, the genome of NV is 12 nucleotides longer than the genome of HV and they have the largest genomes within the family Paramyxoviridae. The comparison of the structures of the genomes of HV and NV is now complete and this information will help to establish the taxonomic position of these novel viruses within the family Paramyxoviridae.
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