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Virology. 1989 Feb;168(2):281-91.

Glycoprotein evolution of vesicular stomatitis virus New Jersey.

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Cell and Molecular Biology Program, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nevada, Reno 89557.


A T1 ribonuclease fingerprinting study of a large number of virus isolates had previously demonstrated that considerable genetic variability existed among natural isolates of the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) New Jersey (NJ) serotype [S.T. Nichol (1988) J. Virol. 62, 572-579]. Based on these results, 34 virus isolates were chosen as representing the extent of genetic diversity within the VSV NJ serotype. We report the entire glycoprotein (G) gene nucleotide sequence and the deduced amino acid sequence for each of these viruses. Up to 19.8% G gene sequence differences could be seen among NJ serotype isolates. Analysis of the distribution of nucleotide substitutions relative to nucleotide codon position revealed that third position changes were distributed randomly throughout the gene. Third base changes constituted 84% of the observed nucleotide substitutions and affected 89% of the third base positions located in the G gene. Only three short oligonucleotide stretches of complete sequence conservation were observed. The remaining nucleotide changes located in the first and second positions were not distributed randomly, indicating that most of the amino acids coded by the G gene cannot be altered without reducing the fitness of the VSV NJ serotype viruses. Despite these constraints, up to 8.5% amino acid differences were observed between virus isolates. These differences were located throughout the G protein including regions adjacent to defined major antibody neutralization epitopes. Apparent clusters of amino acid substitutions were present in the hydrophobic signal sequence, transmembrane domain, and within the cytoplasmic domain of the G protein. A maximum parsimony analysis of the G gene nucleotide sequences allowed construction of a phylogram indicating the evolutionary relationship of these viruses. The VSV NJ serotype appears to contain at least three distinct lineages or subtypes. All recent virus isolates from the United States and Mexico are within subtype I and appear to have evolved from an ancestor more closely related to the Hazelhurst historic strain than other older strains. The implications of these findings for the evolution, epizootiology, and classification of these viruses are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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