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J Gen Virol. 2007 Apr;88(Pt 4):1080-96.

Comparative full-length sequence analysis of oncogenic and vaccine (Rispens) strains of Marek's disease virus.

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Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Athens, GA 30605, USA.


The complete DNA sequence of the Marek's disease virus serotype 1 vaccine strain CVI988 was determined and consists of 178 311 bp with an overall gene organization identical to that of the oncogenic strains. In examining open reading frames (ORFs), nine differ between vaccine and oncogenic strains. A 177 bp insertion was identified in the overlapping genes encoding the Meq, RLORF6 and 23 kDa proteins of CVI988. Three ORFs are predicted to encode truncated proteins. One, designated 49.1, overlaps the gene encoding the large tegument protein UL36 and encodes a severely truncated protein of 34 aa. The others, ORF5.5/ORF75.91 and ORF3.0/78.0, located in the repeat regions (diploid), encode a previously unidentified ORF of 52 aa and a truncated version of the virus-encoded chemokine (vIL-8), respectively. Subtle genetic changes were identified in the two ORFs encoding tegument proteins UL36 and UL49. Only one diploid ORF (ORF6.2/ORF75.6) present in the genomes of the three virulent strains is absent in the CVI988-BAC genome. Seventy non-synonymous amino acid substitutions were identified that could differentiate CVI988-BAC from all three oncogenic strains collectively. Estimates of the non-synonymous to synonymous substitution ratio (omega) indicate that CVI988 ORFs are generally under purifying selection (omega<1), whereas UL39, UL49, UL50, RLORF6 and RLORF7 (Meq) appear to evolve under relaxed selective constraints. No CVI988 ORF was found to be under positive evolutionary selection (omega>>1).

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