Although North American and European serotypes of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) are recognized, only the genome of the European Lelystad strain (LV) has been sequenced completely. Here, the genome of the pathogenic North American PRRSV isolate 16244B has been sequenced and compared with LV. The genomic organization of 16244B was the same as LV but with only 63.4% nucleotide identity. The 189 nucleotide 5' non-coding region (NCR) of 16244B was distinct from the LV NCR, with good conservation (83%) only over a 43 base region immediately upstream of open reading frame (ORF) 1a. Major differences were found in the region encoding the non-structural part of the ORF1a polyprotein, which shared only 47% amino acid identity over 2503 residues of the six non-structural proteins (Nsps) encoded. Nsp2, thought to have a species-specific function, showed the greatest divergence, sharing only 32% amino acid identity with LV and containing 120 additional amino acids in the central region. Nsps encoded by the 5'-proximal and central regions of ORF1b had from 66 to 75% amino acid identity; however, the carboxy-terminal protein CP4 was distinct (42% identity). The ORF1a-1b frameshift region of 16244B had 98% nucleotide identity with LV. Consistent with previous reports for North American isolates, the six structural proteins encoded were 58 to 79% identical to LV proteins. The 3' NCR (150 nucleotides) was 76% identical between isolates. These genomic differences confirm the presence of distinct North American and European PRRSV genotypes.
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