Porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV-2) is the causal agent of the post-weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS). PCV-2 are small single-stranded circular DNA viruses clustered into two main genogroups: PCV-2a and PCV-2b. Each genogroup present a specific highly-conserved motif of six amino acids (between amino acids 86 and 91) in the PCV-2 capsid protein. The aim of this study was to verify whether the motif located in the capsid protein and specific to each PCV-2 genogroup contributes to virulence. Two parental DNA clones, PCV-2a and PCV-2b, were constructed as well as two mutants DNA clones, PCV-2a/motif 2b and PCV-2b/motif 2a by exchanging the capsid motif of each genogroup. The four DNA clones were characterized in vitro as well as in vivo. Cells transfected by the four DNA clones produced infectious viruses. In specific-pathogen-free piglets transfected by the four infectious DNA clones, PCV-2b/motif 2a virulence was not attenuated while the PCV-2a/motif 2b virulence was drastically reduced compared to their parent virulence. These results suggest that the amino acids between positions 86 and 91 of the capsid protein are determinant for the virulence of isolates. However, the environment of this motif seems also involved
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