Porcine astroviruses (PoAstVs) are ubiquitous enteric virus of pigs that are distributed in several countries throughout the world. Since PoAstVs are detected in apparent healthy pigs, the clinical significance of infection is unknown. However, AstVs have recently been associated with a severe neurological disorder in animals, including humans, and zoonotic potential has been suggested. To date, little is known about the epidemiology of PoAstVs among the pig population in Japan. In this report, we present an analysis of nearly complete genomes of 36 PoAstVs detected by a metagenomics approach in the feces of Japanese pigs. Based on a phylogenetic analysis and pairwise sequence comparison, 10, 5, 15, and 6 sequences were classified as PoAstV2, PoAstV3, PoAstV4, and PoAstV5, respectively. Co-infection with two or three strains was found in individual fecal samples from eight pigs. The phylogenetic trees of ORF1a, ORF1b, and ORF2 of PoAstV2 and PoAstV4 showed differences in their topologies. The PoAstV3 and PoAstV5 strains shared high sequence identities within each genotype in all ORFs; however, one PoAstV3 strain and one PoAstV5 strain showed considerable sequence divergence from the other PoAstV3 and PoAstV5 strains, respectively, in ORF2. Recombination analysis using whole genomes revealed evidence of multiple possible intra-genotype recombination events in PoAstV2 and PoAstV4, suggesting that recombination might have contributed to the genetic diversity and played an important role in the evolution of Japanese PoAstVs.
Keywords: Astrovirus; Genotyping; Japan; Porcine feces; Recombination event.
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