Detection of mammalian reovirus RNA by using reverse transcription-PCR: sequence diversity within the lambda3-encoding L1 gene

J Clin Microbiol. 2002 Apr;40(4):1368-75. doi: 10.1128/JCM.40.4.1368-1375.2002.


Reoviruses infect virtually all mammalian species, and infection of humans is associated with mild gastrointestinal or upper respiratory illnesses. To improve reovirus detection strategies, we developed a reverse transcription-PCR technique to amplify a fragment of the reovirus L1 gene segment. This assay was capable of detecting 44 of 44 reovirus field isolate strains and was sufficiently sensitive to detect nearly a single viral particle (1.16 +/- 0.13) per PCR of prototype strain type 3 Dearing. Pairwise comparisons of the 44 partial L1 gene sequences revealed that nucleotide variability ranged from 0 to 24.7%, with most of the nucleotide polymorphism occurring at synonymous positions. Phylogenetic trees generated from amplified L1 gene sequences suggest that multiple alleles of the L1 gene cocirculate in nature and that genetic diversity of the L1 gene is largely independent of the host species, geographic locale, or date of isolation. Phylogenetic trees constructed from the L1 gene sequences are distinct from those constructed from the four reovirus S-class gene segments, which supports the hypothesis that reovirus gene segments reassort in nature. This study establishes a new sensitive and specific technique for the identification of mammalian reoviruses and enhances our understanding of reovirus evolution.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Orthoreovirus, Mammalian / classification
  • Orthoreovirus, Mammalian / genetics
  • Orthoreovirus, Mammalian / isolation & purification*
  • RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase / genetics*
  • Reoviridae Infections / diagnosis*
  • Reoviridae Infections / virology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*
  • Viral Proteins*


  • Viral Proteins
  • lambda3 protein, Reovirus
  • RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase