Characterization of California sea lion polyomavirus 1: Expansion of the known host range of the Polyomaviridae to Carnivora

James F.X. Wellehan, Rebecca Rivera, Linda L. Archer, Celeste Benham, Jennifer K. Muller, Kathleen M. Colegrove, Frances M.D. Gulland, Judy A. St. Leger, Stephanie K. Venn-Watson, Hendrik H. Nollens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The genome of a novel polyomavirus first identified in a proliferative tongue lesion of a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) is reported. This is only the third described polyomavirus of laurasiatherian mammals, is the first of the three associated with a lesion, and is the first known polyomavirus of a host in the order Carnivora. Predicted large T, small t, VP1, VP2, and VP3 genes were identified based on homology to proteins of known polyomaviruses, and a putative agnoprotein was identified based upon its location in the genome. Phylogenetic analysis of the predicted late region proteins found that the laurasiatherian polyomaviruses, together with Squirrel monkey polyomavirus and Murine pneumotropic virus, form a monophyletic clade. Phylogenetic analysis of the early region was more ambiguous. The noncoding control region of California sea lion polyomavirus 1 is unusual in that only two apparent large T binding sites are present; this is less than any other known polyomavirus. The VP1 of this virus has an unusually long carboxy-terminal region. A quantitative polymerase chain reaction was developed and utilized on various samples from 79 additional animals from either managed or wild stranded California sea lion populations, and California sea lion polyomavirus 1 infection was found in 24% of stranded animals. Sequence of additional samples identified four sites of variation in the t antigens, three of which resulted in predicted coding changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-996
Number of pages10
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • California sea lion
  • Phylogeny
  • Polyomaviridae
  • Quantitiative PCR
  • Rolling circle amplification
  • Zalophus californianus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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