Variation in the NS3 gene and protein in South African isolates of bluetongue and equine encephalosis viruses.

Department of Genetics, Faculty of Biological and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria, Hillcrest, Pretoria 0002, South Africa.
Journal of General Virology (Impact Factor: 3.13). 04/2003; 84(Pt 3):581-90. DOI: 10.1099/vir.0.18749-0
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Bluetongue virus (BTV) and equine encephalosis virus (EEV) are agriculturally important orbiviruses transmitted by biting midges of the genus Culicoides. The smallest viral genome segment, S10, encodes two small nonstructural proteins, NS3 and NS3A, which mediate the release of virus particles from infected cells and may subsequently influence the natural dispersion of these viruses. The NS3 gene and protein sequences of South African isolates of these viruses were determined, analysed and compared with cognate orbivirus genes from around the world. The South African BTV NS3 genes were found to have the highest level of sequence variation for BTV (20 %), while the highest level of protein variation of BTV NS3 (10 %) was found between South African and Asian BTV isolates. The inferred NS3 gene phylogeny of the South African BTV isolates grouped them with BTV isolates from the United States, while the Asian BTV isolates grouped into a separate lineage. The level of variation found in the NS3 gene and protein of EEV was higher than that found for BTV and reached 25 and 17 % on the nucleotide and amino acid levels, respectively. The EEV isolates formed a lineage independent from that of the other orbiviruses. This lineage segregated further into two clusters that corresponded to the northern and southern regions of South Africa. The geographical distribution of these isolates may be related to the distribution of the Culicoides subspecies that transmit them.

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