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Vet Microbiol. 1999 Sep 1;69(1-2):29-40.

Host range relationships and the evolution of canine parvovirus.

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James A. Baker Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Canine parvovirus (CPV) is an example of an unusual class of emerging virus-those that gain an altered host range through genetic variation and subsequently become widespread pathogens of their new and previously resistant host species. CPV was first detected in 1978 as the cause of new diseases in dogs throughout the world, when it rapidly spread throughout domestic populations, as well as becoming widespread in wild dogs. CPV was soon shown to be a variant of the long recognized feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), from which it differed in less than 1% at the nucleotide sequence level. Genetic analysis showed that virtually all of the biological differences between CPV and FPV, including the canine host range, were determined by three or four sequence differences in the viral capsid protein gene. Analysis of the atomic structures of the CPV and FPV capsids showed that the differences controlling host range were located within two different structural regions and were exposed on the capsid surface. The CPV which first emerged in 1978 appeared to be derived from a single ancestral sequence, which has allowed the ready analysis of the subsequent evolution of the virus in nature. Sequence analysis has also revealed that CPV strains have undergone a series of evolutionary selections in nature which have resulted in the global distribution of new virus variants. This was first seen in the global replacement between 1979 and 1981 of the original (1978) strain of the virus by a genetically and antigenically variant strain, and the subsequent widespread selection of other variants which have also become globally distributed. The genetic and antigenic variation in the virus strains was also correlated with changes in the host range of the virus, in particular in the ability to replicate in cats, and in canine host range differences seen in tissue culture cells.

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