We cloned the genome RNA of the Chiba virus (ChV; Hu/NLV/Chiba 407/1987/JP) and determined its complete nucleotide sequence. The genome is predicted to be a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA of 7697 bases, excluding a poly(A) tract. Comparison of the nucleotide and amino acid sequences with those of other members of the species Norwalk virus (NV) revealed that ChV belongs to genogroup I NV. The ChV genome contains three open reading frames (ORFs). A large 5'-terminal ORF (ORF1) encodes a polyprotein with 1785 amino acids that are likely processed into functional proteins, including RNA helicase, VPg, protease, and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. ORF2 encodes the capsid protein with 544 amino acids, and a small 3'-terminal ORF (ORF3) encodes a basic protein with 208 amino acids. The amino acid sequences of five cleavage sites in ORF1 are highly conserved compared with those of other members of NV. When expressed in Escherichia coli, the glutathione-S-transferase (GST) fusion protein of the ChV protease connected via a short peptide containing a human rhinovirus 3C protease cleavage site was cleaved into GST and the protease; however, this cleavage did not occur when the Cys mutation was introduced into the putative active site of the protease. Moreover, the ChV protease recognized and cleaved the predicted proteolytic sites between VPg and protease and between protease and RNA polymerase. Therefore, the ChV protease expressed in E. coli retained an enzymatic activity and a substrate specificity similar to that of the human rhinovirus 3C protease.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.