Tech Briefs

RECOVIR Software for Identifying Viruses

Most single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) viruses mutate rapidly to generate a large number of strains with highly divergent capsid sequences. Determining the capsid residues or nucleotides that uniquely characterize these strains is critical in understanding the strain diversity of these viruses. RECOVIR (an acronym for “recognize viruses”) software predicts the strains of some ssRNA viruses from their limited sequence data. Novel phylogenetic-treebased databases of protein or nucleic acid residues that uniquely characterize these virus strains are created. Strains of input virus sequences (partial or complete) are predicted through residue-wise comparisons with the databases.

RECOVIR uses unique characterizing residues to identify automatically strains of partial or complete capsid sequences of picorna and caliciviruses, two of the most highly diverse ssRNA virus families. Partition-wise comparisons of the database residues with the corresponding residues of more than 300 complete and partial sequences of these viruses resulted in correct strain identification for all of these sequences.

This study shows the feasibility of creating databases of hitherto unknown residues uniquely characterizing the capsid sequences of two of the most highly divergent ssRNA virus families. These databases enable automated strain identification from partial or complete capsid sequences of these human and animal pathogens.

This work was done by Sugoto Chakravarty, George E. Fox, and Dianhui Zhu of the University of Houston for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-24358-1