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Arch Virol Suppl. 1998;14:221-34.

Molecular epidemiology of African horse sickness virus based on analyses and comparisons of genome segments 7 and 10.

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Centre National d'Etudes Vétérinaires et Alimentaires, Laboratoire Central de Recherches Vétérinaires, Maisons Alfort, France.


This paper describes a method to rapidly identify African horse sickness virus (AHSV), using a single tube reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This method was used to amplify cDNA copies of genome segments 7 and 10 from several different AHSV strains, of different serotypes, which were then analysed by sequencing and/or endonuclease digestion. AHSV VP7 (encoded by genome segment 7) is one of the two major capsid proteins of the inner capsid layer, forming the outer surface of the core particle. VP7 is highly conserved and is the major serogroup specific antigen common to all nine AHSV serotypes. Digestion of the 1179 bp cDNA with restriction enzymes, allowed differentiation of several strains of different serotypes and identified six distinct groups containing AHSV-1, 3, 6 and 8; AHSV-2; AHSV-4; AHSV-5; AHSV-7; and AHSV-9. Differences were detected between wild type viruses and vaccine strains that had been attenuated by multiple passage in suckling mouse brain or in tissue cultures. RFLP analysis was also used to study variation the 758 bp cDNA copies of AHSV genome segment 10, which encodes the two small non-structural membrane proteins NS3 and NS3a. In this way it was possible to distinguish each of the strains tested, except AHSV 4 (USDA) and AHSV 9 (USDA). However, these isolates could be distinguished by RFLP analysis of genome segment 7 cDNA. Using sequence analysis of genome segment 10 we were able to classify the virus isolates into three groups: AHSV-1, 2 and 8; AHSV-3 and 7; AHSV 4, 5, 6 and 9. These studies confirmed that the virus which first appeared in central Spain in July 1987, subsequently spread into northern Morocco in October 1989.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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