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Transbound Emerg Dis. 2019 Aug 4. doi: 10.1111/tbed.13322. [Epub ahead of print]

Extended sequencing of vaccine and wild-type capripoxvirus isolates provides insights into genes modulating virulence and host range.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD), Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
CSIRO Livestock Industries, Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Geelong, Vic., Australia.
Department of Immunology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.


The genus Capripoxvirus in the subfamily Chordopoxvirinae, family Poxviridae, comprises sheeppox virus (SPPV), goatpox virus (GTPV) and lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), which cause the eponymous diseases across parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. These diseases cause significant economic losses and can have a devastating impact on the livelihoods and food security of small farm holders. So far, only live classically attenuated SPPV, GTPV and LSDV vaccines are commercially available and the history, safety and efficacy of many have not been well established. Here, we report 13 new capripoxvirus genome sequences, including the hairpin telomeres, from both pathogenic field isolates and vaccine strains. We have also updated the genome annotations to incorporate recent advances in our understanding of poxvirus biology. These new genomes and genes grouped phenetically with other previously sequenced capripoxvirus strains, and these new alignments collectively identified several recurring alterations in genes thought to modulate virulence and host range. In particular, some of the many large capripoxvirus ankyrin and kelch-like proteins are commonly mutated in vaccine strains, while the variola virus B22R-like gene homolog has also been disrupted in many vaccine isolates. Among these vaccine isolates, frameshift mutations are especially common and clearly present a risk of reversion to wild type in vaccines bearing these mutations. A consistent pattern of gene inactivation from LSDV to GTPV and then SPPV is also observed, much like the pattern of gene loss in orthopoxviruses, but, rather surprisingly, the overall genome size of ~150 kbp remains relatively constant. These data provide new insights into the evolution of capripoxviruses and the determinants of pathogenicity and host range. They will find application in the development of new vaccines with better safety, efficacy and trade profiles.


capripoxvirus; goatpox virus; lumpy skin disease virus; poxvirus; sheeppox virus; virulence


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