Genomic characterization of the first oral avian papillomavirus in a colony of breeding canaries (Serinus canaria)

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Papillomaviruses are non-enveloped, DNA viruses that infect skin and mucosa of a wide variety of vertebrates, causing neoplasias or simply persisting asymptomatically. Avian papillomaviruses, with six fully sequenced genomes, are the second most studied group after mammalian papillomaviruses. In this study, we describe the first oral avian papillomavirus, detected in the tongue of a dead Yorkshire canary (Serinus canaria) and in oral swabs of the same bird and other two live canaries from an aviary in Madrid, Spain. Its genome is 8,071 bp and presents the canonical papillomavirus architecture with six early (E6, E7, E1, E9, E2, E4) and two late open reading frames (L1 and L2) and a long control region between L1 and E6. This new avian papillomavirus L1 gene shares a 64% pairwise identity with FcPV1 L1, so it has been classified as a new species (ScPV1) within the Ethapapillomavirus genus. Although the canary died after showing breathing problems, there is no evidence that the papillomavirus caused those symptoms so it could be part of the oral microbiota of the birds. Hence, future investigations are needed to evaluate the clinical relevance of the virus.