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Virology. 1991 Aug;183(2):578-85.

Isolation and molecular characterization of the swinepox virus thymidine kinase gene.

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Department of Immunology and Medical Microbiology, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610.


Swinepox virus (SPV), the only member of the Suipoxvirus genus, shows little antigenic relatedness or DNA homology to members of the other poxvirus genera. A SPV thymidine kinase (TK) gene was detected and mapped to the left end of the HindIII G fragment using degenerate oligonucleotide probes. Cloning and sequencing of a 1.8-kb HindIII-BamHI fragment containing the SPV TK gene revealed an open reading frame (ORF) of 181 amino acids yielding a predicted polypeptide of Mr 20.6 kDa with significant homology to both poxvirus and vertebrate thymidine kinases. Comparison with other TK protein sequences showed that the SPV thymidine kinase was closely related to the TK genes of avipoxviruses (52.0%) and vertebrates (57.1-59.7%). The TK gene from African swine fever virus (ASF) showed little homology (30.5%) to the SPV TK gene suggesting that these two viruses are not closely related though they share many biochemical features and infect a single, common mammalian host (swine). The SPV TK gene, like that of other poxviruses, is transcribed early, and when cloned into a TK- strain of vaccinia converted the virus to a TK+ phenotype. BUdRR mutants of SPV contained frameshift, deletion, and missense mutations in the TK ORF.

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