The complete nucleotide sequence of the genome of Papaya leaf distortion mosaic virus (PLDMV) was determined. The viral RNA genome of strain LDM (leaf distortion mosaic) comprised 10,153 nucleotides, excluding the poly(A) tail, and contained one long open reading frame encoding a polyprotein of 3,269 amino acids (molecular weight 373,347). The polyprotein contained nine putative proteolytic cleavage sites and some motifs conserved in other potyviral polyproteins with 44 to 50% identities, indicating that PLDMV is a distinct species in the genus Potyvirus. Like the W biotype of Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV), the non-papaya-infecting biotype of PLDMV (PLDMV-C) was found in plants of the family Cucurbitaceae. The coat protein (CP) sequence of PLDMV-C in naturally infected-Trichosanthes bracteata was compared with those of three strains of the P biotype (PLDMV-P), LDM and two additional strains M (mosaic) and YM (yellow mosaic), which are biologically different from each other. The CP sequences of three strains of PLDMV-P share high identities of 95 to 97%, while they share lower identities of 88 to 89% with that of PLDMV-C. Significant changes in hydrophobicity and a deletion of two amino acids at the N-terminal region of the CP of PLDMV-C were observed. The finding of two biotypes of PLDMV implies the possibility that the papaya-infecting biotype evolved from the cucurbitaceae-infecting potyvirus, as has been previously suggested for PRSV. In addition, a similar evolutionary event acquiring infectivity to papaya may arise frequently in viruses in the family Cucurbitaceae.
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