Identification of a reptile lyssavirus in Anolis allogus provided novel insights into lyssavirus evolution

Masayuki Horie, Hiroshi Akashi, Masakado Kawata, Keizo Tomonaga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Lyssaviruses (genus Lyssavirus) are negative-strand RNA viruses belonging to the family Rhabdoviridae. Although a lyssa-like virus (frog lyssa-like virus 1 [FLLV-1]), which is distantly related to lyssaviruses, was recently identified in frogs, a large phylogenetic gap exists between those viruses, and thus the evolution of lyssaviruses is unclear. In this study, we detected a lyssa-like virus from publicly available RNA-seq data obtained using the brain and skin of Anolis allogus (Spanish flag anole), which was designated anole lyssa-like virus 1 (ALLV-1), and determined its complete coding sequence. Via mapping analysis, we demonstrated that ALLV-1 was actively replicating in the original brain and skin samples. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that ALLV-1 is more closely related to lyssaviruses than FLLV-1. Overall, the topology of the tree is compatible with that of hosts, suggesting the long-term co-divergence of lyssa-like and lyssaviruses and vertebrates. The ψ region, which is a long 3′ untranslated region of unknown origin present in the G mRNA of lyssaviruses (approximately 400–700 nucleotides), is also present in the genome of ALLV-1, but it is much shorter (approximately 180 nucleotides) than those of lyssaviruses. Interestingly, FLLV-1 lacks the ψ region, suggesting that the ψ region was acquired after the divergence of the FLLV-1 and ALLV-1/lyssavirus lineages. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report to identify a lyssa-like virus in reptiles, and thus, our findings provide novel insights into the evolution of lyssaviruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-49
Number of pages10
JournalVirus Genes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Feb


  • Anolis allogus
  • Lyssavirus
  • Metaviromics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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