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J Vet Diagn Invest. 2007 Sep;19(5):471-8.

Development of a nested polymerase chain reaction method to detect oncogenic Marek's disease virus from feather tips.

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Department of Disease Control, Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0818, Japan.


For the easy survey of Marek's disease virus (MDV), feather tip-derived DNA from MDV-infected chickens can be used because feather tips are easy to collect and feather follicle epithelium is known to be the only site of productive replication of cell-free MDV. To develop a diagnostic method to differentiate highly virulent strains of MDV from the attenuated MDV vaccine strain, CVI988, which is widely used, nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed to detect a segment of the meq gene in feather tip samples of chickens experimentally infected with MDV. In chickens infected with Md5, a strain of oncogenic MDV, the meq gene was consistently detected, whereas the L-meq gene, in which a 180-base pair (180-bp) sequence is inserted into the meq gene, was detected in CVI988-infected chickens. Moreover, the meq gene was mainly detected even in chickens co-infected with both Md5 and CVI988. These results suggest that this method is appropriate for the surveillance of the highly virulent MDV infection in the field.

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