Molecular characterisation and epidemiology of torovirus



Dolores Rodríguez

Group Leader



Research summary

Our general objective is to study different biological aspects of the toroviruses, emergent viruses that are practically ignored despite they have the potentiality to infect and cause enteric diseases in different animal species and in man. They are enveloped viruses with a single-stranded RNA genome, which belong to the Coronaviridae (Nidovirales order). Four genotypes or species have been identified so far: equine torovirus (EqToV or BEV), bovine torovirus (BToV), porcine torovirus (PToV) and human torovirus (HToV).



Méndez F, Romero N, Cubas LL, Delgui L, Rodríguez D, Rodríguez JF. Non-lytic egression of infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) particles from infected cells. PLoS One 2016; 12: e0170080

Ávila-Pérez GF, Rejas MT, Rodríguez D. Ultrastructural characterization of membranous torovirus replication factories. Cell Microbiol 2016; 18: 1691–1708

Méndez F, de Garay T, Rodríguez D, Rodríguez JF. Infectious Bursal Disease Virus VP5 Polypeptide: A phosphoinositide-binding protein required for efficient cell-to-cell virus dissemination. PLoS One 2015; 10: e0123470

Fernández-Escobar M, Nájera JL, Baldanta S, Rodriguez D, Way M, Esteban M, Guerra S. Suppression of NYVAC infection in HeLa cells requires RNAse L but is independent of PKR activity. J Virol. 2015 Dec 9;90(4):2135-41

Pignatelli J, Alonso-Padilla J, Rodríguez D.Lineage specific antigenic differences in porcine torovirus hemagglutinin-esterase (PToV-HE) protein. Vet Res 2013; 44:126


Toroviruses (ToV) are enveloped, positive single-stranded RNA viruses of cattle, horses, pigs and humans. They are associated with enteric infections and diarrhoea, especially in young animals and children, and are considered a potential zoonotic threat. The Torovirinae subfamily of the Coronaviridae family (order Nidovirales) comprises four species: equine (EToV), bovine (BToV), porcine (PToV) and human torovirus (HToV). Information gathered from different epidemiological studies, including ours, indicates that ToV are widely prevalent in porcine and bovine livestock. Nonetheless, these viruses have been poorly studied to date.

To determine the prevalence of PToV in Spanish herds, we used serological and virological analyses of samples from adult and young animals from 100 farms distributed throughout Spain, and identified virus strains of the two defined PToV lineages. We found that the HE protein, which forms small spikes on the surface of the virions, distinct lineage-associated antigenic characteristics. Our results showed that PToV is endemic in Spain, and indicated that the HE protein has an important role in PToV-host interactions. The implications of this protein in immune protection could explain the chronic infection/re-infection cycle in the Spanish pig population.

The complex interactions between ToV and host defence mechanisms determines the outcome of the ToV-caused disease, but can also influence the immune response to a concurrent or subsequent infection by an unrelated pathogen. One of our main goals is thus to understand ToV-host cell interactions. We are currently studying the ability of the virus to counteract the innate immune response mediated by type I interferon (IFN). Our findings indicate that the virus can block both IFN secretion and expression of IFN-stimulated genes. At least two viral proteins are involved in IFN antagonism.

RNA viruses form their replication/transcription complexes in association with cell membranes. To characterise these complexes in ToV-infected cells, we are using various imaging techniques in combination with a panel of antibodies to distinct viral proteins involved in these processes.




Dolores Rodríguez Principal investigator
Ginés Francisco Ávila Pérez Predoctoral scientist
Gliselle Nieves Molina Predoctoral scientists
Liliana Lilibeth Cubas Gaona Predoctoral scientists

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