Complete genomic characterisation of two novel poxviruses (WKPV and EKPV) from western and eastern grey kangaroos

Mark Bennett, Shin-Lin Tu, Chris Upton, Cassie McArtor, Amber Gillett, Tanya Laird, Mark O'Dea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Poxviruses have previously been detected in macropods with cutaneous papillomatous lesions, however to date, no comprehensive analysis of a poxvirus from kangaroos has been performed. Here we report the genome sequences of a western grey kangaroo poxvirus (WKPV) and an eastern grey kangaroo poxvirus (EKPV), named for the host species from which they were isolated, western grey (Macropus fuliginosus) and eastern grey (Macropus giganteus) kangaroos. Poxvirus DNA from WKPV and EKPV was isolated and entire coding genome regions determined through Roche GS Junior and Illumina Miseq sequencing, respectively. Viral genomes were assembled using MIRA and SPAdes, and annotations performed using tools available from the Viral Bioinformatics Resource Centre. Histopathology and transmission electron microscopy analysis was also performed on WKPV and its associated lesions.
The WKPV and EKPV genomes show 96% identity (nucleotide) to each other and phylogenetic analysis places them on a distinct branch between the established Molluscipoxvirus and Avipoxvirus genera. WKPV and EKPV are 170 kbp and 167 kbp long, containing 165 and 162 putative genes, respectively. Together, their genomes encode up to 47 novel unique hypothetical proteins, and possess virulence proteins including a major histocompatibility complex class II inhibitor, a semaphorin-like protein, a serpin, a 3-β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/δ 54 isomerase, and a CD200-like protein. These viruses also encode a large putative protein (WKPV-WA-039 and EKPV-SC-038) with a C-terminal domain that is structurally similar to the C-terminal domain of a cullin, suggestive of a role in the control of host ubiquitination. The relationship of these viruses to members of the Molluscipoxvirus and Avipoxvirus genera is discussed in terms of sequence similarity, gene content and nucleotide composition. A novel genus within subfamily Chordopoxvirinae is proposed to accommodate these two poxvirus species from kangaroos; we suggest the name, Thylacopoxvirus (thylaco-: [Gr.] thylakos meaning sac or pouch).
Original languageEnglish
JournalVirus Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Sept 2017


  • Macropus, kangaroo, macropod, poxvirus, thylacopoxvirus, cullin


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