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Virology. 1996 Apr 15;218(2):417-21.

Molecular characterization of the Japanese encephalitis serocomplex of the flavivirus genus.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


The Japanese encephalitis (JE) serocomplex of flaviviruses comprises 10 members, 9 of which: Alfuy (ALF); Koutango (KOU); Kokobera (KOK); Kunjin (KUN); Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE); JE; Stratford (STR); Usutu (USU); and West Nile (WN) have been isolated from Africa, southern Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Australia. The tenth member, St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) virus, is confined to North, Central, and South America. For ALF, KOK, KOU, STR, and USU, no sequence data have as yet been reported, and little molecular phylogeny has been determined for this complex as a whole. Using a rapid, one-step RT-PCR and universal primers, we have amplified and sequenced a 450-600 base pair region of the virus genome encompassing the N terminus of the nonstructural protein NS5 and the 5' end of the 3' noncoding region, for several strains of all of these viruses, except USU and SLE viruses. These data, as well as published sequence data for other flaviviruses, were analyzed with the ClustalW and Phylip computer packages. The resultant phylogenetic data were consistent with some of the current flavivirus serological classification, showing a close relationship between ALF and MVE viruses and between KOK and STR viruses, but suggested that KOK and STR are distantly related to the other viruses and should perhaps be reclassified in their own serocomplex. The data also confirmed the close relationship between KUN and WN viruses and showed that an isolate of KUN virus from Sarawak may represent a "link" between these two virus species. In addition, the primary sequence data revealed a polymorphic region just downstream of the stop codon in the 3' end of the viral genomes.

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