This past Friday, the Virology journal published a short report confirming the detection of a new porcine circovirus named PCV3. The virus was identified by a team of diagnosticians and researchers from the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the U of M in collaboration with the Blood Systems Research Institute and the Department of Laboratory Medicine in San Fransisco.
The pigs, gathered from three different cases, which expressed cardiac pathology and lesions of systemic inflammation tested negative for PCV2 by PCR. The article also reports the complete genetic sequences of the viruses and illustrates how different their proteins are from PCV2 and PCV1 ones in a phylogenetic tree.
Porcine circovirus 2 causes different clinical syndromes resulting in a significant economic loss in the pork industry. Three pigs with unexplained cardiac and multi-organ inflammation that tested negative for PCV2 and other known porcine pathogens were further analyzed.
Histology was used to identify microscopic lesions in multiple tissues. Metagenomics was used to detect viral sequences in tissue homogenates. In situ hybridization was used to detect viral RNA expression in cardiac tissue.
In all three cases we characterized the genome of a new circovirus we called PCV3 with a replicase and capsid proteins showing 55 and 35 % identities to the genetically-closest proteins from a bat-feces associated circovirus and were even more distant to those of porcine circovirus 1 and 2. Common microscopic lesions included non-suppurative myocarditis and/or cardiac arteriolitis. Viral mRNA was detected intralesionally in cardiac cells. Deep sequencing in tissues also revealed the presence of porcine astrovirus 4 in all three animals as well as rotavirus A, porcine cytomegalovirus and porcine hemagglutinating encephalomyelitis virus in individual cases.
The pathogenicity and molecular epidemiology of this new circovirus, alone or in the context of co-infections, warrants further investigations.