Bornavirus, a non-segmented, negative-strand RNA viruses, is currently classified into several genetically distinct genotypes, such as Borna disease virus (BDV) and avian bornaviruses (ABVs). Recent studies revealed that bornavirus genotypes show unique sequence variability in the putative 5′ untranslated region (5′ UTR) of X/P mRNA, a bicistronic mRNA for the X protein and phosphoprotein (P). In this study, to understand the evolutionary relationship among the bornavirus genotypes, we investigated the functional interaction between the X and P proteins of four bornavirus genotypes, BDV, ABV genotype 4 and 5 and reptile bornavirus (RBV), the putative 5′ UTRs of which exhibit variation in the length. Immunofluorescence and immunoprecipitation analyses using mammalian and avian cell lines revealed that the X proteins of bornaviruses conserve the ability to facilitate the export of P from the nucleus to the cytoplasm via interaction with P. Furthermore, we showed that inter-genotypic interactions may occur between X and P among the genotypes, except for X of RBV. In addition, a BDV minireplicon assay demonstrated that the X and P proteins of ABVs, but not RBV, can affect the polymerase activity of BDV. This study demonstrates that bornaviruses may have conserved the fundamental function of a regulatory protein during their evolution, whereas RBV has evolved distinctly from the other bornavirus genotypes.
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