Genetic divergence with emergence of novel phenotypic variants of equine arteritis virus during persistent infection of stallions

Jodi F. Hedges, Udeni B R Balasuriya, Peter J. Timoney, William H. McCollum, Nigel J Maclachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

The persistently infected carrier stallion is the critical natural reservoir of equine arteritis virus (EAV), as venereal infection of mares frequently occurs after breeding to such stallions. Two Thoroughbred stallions that were infected during the 1984 outbreak of equine viral arteritis in central Kentucky subsequently became long-term EAV carriers. EAV genomes amplified from the semen of these two stallions were compared by sequence analysis of the six 3' open reading frames (ORFs 2 through 7), which encode the four known structural proteins and two uncharacterized glycoproteins. The major variants of the EAV population that sequentially arose within the reproductive tract of each carrier stallion varied by approximately 1% per year, and the heterogeneity of the viral quasispecies increased during the course of long-term persistent infection. The various ORFs of the dominant EAV variants evolved independently, and there was apparently strong selective pressure on the uncharacterized GP3 protein during persistent infection. Amino acid changes also occurred in the V1 variable region of the G(L) protein. This region has been previously identified as a crucial neutralization domain, and selective pressures exerted on the V1 region daring persistent EAV infection led to the emergence of virus variants with distinct neutralization properties. Thus, evolution of the EAV quasispecies that occurs during persistent infection of the stallion clearly can influence viral phenotypic properties such as neutralization and perhaps virulence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3672-3681
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Volume73
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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