A new genus of the family Picornaviridae, Parechovirus, has recently been recognised on the basis of distinctive biological and molecular properties. In particular: parechoviruses exhibit characteristic effects on the host cell; cleavage of the capsid protein VP0, required for maturation of the virus particle in most other picornaviruses, does not occur; there is a unique extension, which is highly basic in character, to the N-terminus of the capsid protein VP3; and the 2A protein, in common with those of only two other known picornaviruses, is a homologue of a family of cellular proteins involved in the control of cell proliferation. The type member of the Parechovirus genus is a frequent human pathogen, formerly known as echovirus 22, which has been renamed human parechovirus 1. The genus also includes the closely related virus, human parechovirus 2 (formerly echovirus 23). Human parechoviruses generally cause mild, gastrointestinal or respiratory illness, but more serious consequences of infection, such as myocarditis and encephalitis have been reported. Most infections occur in young children. Ljungan virus, a newly identified virus of rodents, shares a number of molecular features with the human parechoviruses, raising important questions about the evolution of parechoviruses and their introduction into the human population.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.