Avian metapneumovirus (AMPV) causes an upper respiratory tract infection in turkeys leading to serious economic losses to the turkey industry. The G glycoprotein of AMPV is known to be associated with viral attachment and pathogenesis. In this study, we determined the role of the G glycoprotein in the pathogenicity and immunogenicity of AMPV strain Colorado (AMPV/CO). Recombinant AMPV/CO lacking the G protein (rAMPV/CO-ΔG) was generated using a reverse-genetics system. The recovered rAMPV/CO-ΔG replicated slightly better than did wild-type AMPV in Vero cells. However, deletion of the G gene in AMPV resulted in attenuation of the virus in turkeys. The mutant virus induced less-severe clinical signs and a weaker immune response in turkeys than did the wild-type AMPV. Our results suggest that the G glycoprotein is an important determinant for the pathogenicity and immunogenicity of AMPV.

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