Phylogenetic and pathogenic characterization of a pigeon
paramyxovirus type 1 isolate reveals cross-species transmission
and potential outbreak risks in the northwest region of China
Received: 13 December 2016 / Accepted: 11 May 2017 / Published online: 8 June 2017
Ó Springer-Verlag Wien 2017
Abstract Pigeon paramyxovirus type-1 (PPMV-1) is
enzootic in pigeons, causing severe economic loss in the
poultry industry in many countries. However, the exact
epidemic process of PPMV-1 transmission is still unclear.
In this study, we analyzed the complete genome of the
PPMV-1/SX-01/15 isolate. Sequence results show that the
virus genome contains 15,192 nucleotides, with the gene
order 3’-NP-P-M-F-HN-L-5’. Phylogenetic analysis
revealed that this genome belongs to subgenotype VIc in
class II. The mean death time (MDT) and intracerebral
pathogenicity index (ICPI) were 62.4 h and 1.13, respec-
tively, indicating that this isolate is a mesogenic PPMV-1
strain. To our knowledge, this is the ﬁrst report of a
subgenotype VIc mesogenic PPMV-1 strain circulating in
commercial pigeon ﬂocks in the northwest region of China.
In a comparative infection experiment, the morbidity and
mortality rates were 100% and 80%, respectively, in
4-week-old pigeons, whereas they were 50% and 30%,
respectively, in 5-week-old chickens. Furthermore, this
virus caused severe neurological symptoms in a 4-week-old
pigeon and mild neurological symptoms in a 5-week-old
chicken. A histopathological examination of the brain
showed a classical nonsuppurative encephalitis lesion. The
pattern of viral shedding, and viral load, and virus distri-
bution differed between infected chickens and pigeons.
Genomic characteristics suggest that there was cross-spe-
cies transmission of PPMV-1 subgenotype VIc in this
region at least from the years 2006 to 2015.
Newcastle disease (ND) is one of the most severe viral
diseases of birds . ND is caused by Newcastle disease
virus (NDV), which belongs to the genus Avulavirus,
family Paramyxoviridae, order Mononegavirales [2, 3].
NDV encodes six structural proteins, namely, nucleocapsid
protein (NP), phosphoprotein (P), matrix protein (M),
fusion protein (F), hemagglutinin-neuraminidase protein
(HN), and polymerase protein (L), and two non-structural
proteins, namely, V and W. NDV strains can be separated
into classes I and II based on genome size and sequence
analysis. Class II viruses are the most virulent NDVs, and
at least 18 genotypes have been identiﬁed in this group .
Viruses of genotypes I to IV are early sublineages that
occurred before 1960, with a genome size of 15,186 nt,
whereas NDV isolates from after 1960 have a genome size
of 15,192 nt (V to XVII), with genotype VI being further
divided into subgenotypes VIa to VIi [4–8]. Pigeon
paramyxovirus type 1 (PPMV-1), which was ﬁrst charac-
terized using monoclonal antibodies and subsequently by
analysis of the F gene, is an antigenic and host variant of
NDV [9–12]. The disease caused by PPMV-1 in pigeons
was ﬁrst reported in the Middle East in the late 1970s, and
the third panzootic occurred during the 1980s [11, 14].
Shanhui Ren, Chongyang Wang and Xue Zhang contributed equally
to this work and share ﬁrst-authorship.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this
article (doi:10.1007/s00705-017-3422-1) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
& Xinglong Wang
& Zengqi Yang
Department of Avian Disease, College of Veterinary
Medicine, Northwest A & F University,
Yangling 712100, Shaanxi, People’s Republic of China
Arch Virol (2017) 162:2755–2767