A wild goose metapneumovirus containing a large attachment glycoprotein is avirulent but immunoprotective in domestic turkeys

Richard S. Bennett, Rebecca LaRue, Daniel Shaw, Qingzhong Yu, K. V. Nagaraja, David A. Halvorson, M. Kariuki Njenga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The genomic structure and composition of an avian metapneumovirus (aMPV) recently isolated from wild Canada geese (goose 15a/01) in the United States, together with its replication, virulence, and immunogenicity in domestic turkeys, were investigated. The sizes of seven of the eight genes, sequence identity, and genome organization of goose aMPV were similar to those of turkey aMPV subtype C (aMPV/C) strains, indicating that it belonged to the subtype. However, the goose virus contained the largest attachment (G) gene of any pneumovirus or metapneumovirus, with the predicted G protein of 585 amino acids (aa) more than twice the sizes of G proteins from other subtype C viruses and human metapneumovirus and more than 170 aa larger than the G proteins from the other aMPV subtypes (subtypes A, B, and D). The large G gene resulted from a 1,015-nucleotide insertion at 18 nucleotides upstream of the termination signal of the turkey aMPV/C G gene. Three other aMPV isolates from Canada geese had similarly large G genes, whereas analysis of recent aMPV strains circulating in U.S. turkeys did not indicate the presence of the goose virus-like strain. In vitro, the goose virus replicated to levels (2 × 105 to 5 × 105 50% tissue culture infective dose) comparable to those produced by turkey aMPV/C strains. More importantly, the virus replicated efficiently in the upper respiratory tract of domestic turkeys but with no clinical signs in either day-old or 2-week-old turkeys. The virus was also horizontally transmitted to naïve birds, and turkey infections with goose 15a/01 induced production of aMPV-specific antibodies. Challenging day-old or 2-week-old turkeys vaccinated with live goose aMPV resulted in lower clinical scores in 33% of the birds, whereas the rest of the birds had no detectable clinical signs of the upper respiratory disease, suggesting that the mutant virus may be a safe and effective vaccine against aMPV infection outbreaks in commercial turkeys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14834-14842
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2005


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