Introduction: Genotype VI of avian avulavirus 1 (AAvV-1) has pigeons and doves as its reservoir and is often termed pigeon paramyxovirus type-1 (PPMV-1). The pathogenesis of PPMV-1 infections in poultry is largely obscure. It is known that PPMV-1 requires a series of passages in chickens before it becomes adapted to gallinaceous poultry.
Material and Methods: Changes in the genome of PPMV-1 were analysed after serial passages in specific pathogen free (SPF) chickens, using high-throughput sequencing. Additionally, histopathological lesions induced by PPMV-1 in experimentally inoculated pigeons, chickens, and turkeys were evaluated.
Results: Following six passages of PPMV-1 in chickens, 10 nonsynonymous substitutions were found including one (in the NP protein) which dominated the genetic pool of viral quasispecies. Histopathological changes induced by the post-passage PPMV-1 strain were more prominent than changes wrought by the pre-passaged PPMV-1 strain and the lesions were most intense in pigeons followed by chickens and turkeys.
Conclusion: PPMV-1 is highly adapted to pigeons and passaging through chickens results in the acquisition of novel amino acids in the polymerase complex, which may alter the pathogenic potential of the virus.