Original Papers

Archives of Virology

, Volume 141, Issue 9, pp 1661-1676

First online:

G3P2 rotaviruses causing diarrhoeal disease in neonates differ in VP4, VP7 and NSP4 sequence from G3P2 strains causing asymptomatic neonatal infection

  • C. D. KirkwoodAffiliated withDepartment of Gastroenterology, Royal Children's Hospital
  • , B. S. CoulsonAffiliated withDepartment of Gastroenterology, Royal Children's Hospital
  • , R. F. BishopAffiliated withDepartment of Gastroenterology, Royal Children's Hospital

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During longitudinal epidemiological studies of rotavirus infections in children in Melbourne, Australia human G3P2 rotavirus strains causing asymptomatic or symptomatic infections have been identified. Eleven strains (AS strains) associated with asymptomatic infection of newborn babies from 1974–1984, and five strains (S strains) associated with symptomatic infection of newborn babies (4) or a 22 week old infant (1) during 1980–1986 were studied. The entire nucleotide sequences of genes coding for VP4, VP7, NSP4 and VP6 were derived for representative AS and S strains. The nucleotide sequences of neutralization epitope regions present on the outer capsid proteins VP4 and VP7 (regions C and F) showed extensive conservation of nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequence in all strains. Minor variations were observed over the 12 year period in VP7 epitope regions A and B in some strains. Specific conserved amino acids differences between the asymptomatic and symptomatic strains were observed in the genes encoding VP4 at aa133 and 303 (asparagine or threonine) and 380 (serine or isoleucine), VP7 at aa27 (threonine or isoleucine), aa29 (isoleucine or threonine), aa42 (valine or alanine) and aa238 (asparagine or aspartic acid/serine) and NSP4 at aa135 (isoleucine or valine). No amino acid changes were identified in gene 6. The observed amino acid differences occurred in proteins that have been implicated in virulence, and correlate with differences in clinical symptoms of infants infected with these strains. These results permit speculation about the genetic basis for virulence of human strains.