Presently, one of the most economically important pathogens affecting swine is the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV). This virus is prevalent in herds throughout the world and continues to pose a significant threat as newer and more virulent disease phenotypes emerge. In this report we describe the full-length nucleotide sequence of a Canadian PRRSV isolate, designated PA8. A consecutive sequence of 15,411 nucleotides was obtained from a set of overlapping cDNA clones. In order to determine the extent of genetic variation among isolates recovered from swine in Canada and the US, as well as to understand the molecular mechanisms governing the evolution of PRRSV, the full-length sequence of PA8 was compared with that of two US isolates, VR2332 and 16244B. The genomic sequence of PA8 shared 98.2% and 99.2% identity with 16244B and VR2332, respectively. The untranslated regions (UTR) at the 5′ and 3′ ends of the genome were very well conserved. Notable exceptions include an eight nucleotide difference at the 5′ end of the 5′ UTR of VR2332 relative to PA8 and 16244B and a two nucleotide difference in the 3′ UTR of PA8 relative to VR2332 and 16244B. In contrast to PA8 and VR2332, 16244B possessed two nucleotide differences within the RNA pseudoknot structure of the ribosomal frameshift region between open reading frame (ORF) 1a and ORF1b. Amino acid differences were distributed throughout the genome, however they appeared to be most extensive in Nsp1β and ORF5 of the nonstructural and structural coding regions, respectively, suggesting that the evolutionary pressure to conserve these viral genes is somewhat lower.
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