Molecular Epidemiology of Avian Leukosis Virus Subgroup J in Layer Flocks in China

Division of Avian Infectious Diseases, State [corrected] Key Laboratory of Veterinary Biotechnology, Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Harbin, China.
Journal of clinical microbiology (Impact Factor: 4.23). 12/2011; 50(3):953-60. DOI: 10.1128/JCM.06179-11
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Avian leukosis virus subgroup J (ALV-J) was first isolated from meat-type chickens in 1988. No field cases of ALV-J infection or tumors in layer chickens were observed worldwide until 2004. However, layer flocks in China have experienced outbreaks of this virus in recent years. The molecular epidemiology of ALV-J strains isolated from layer flocks was investigated. The env genes of 77.8% (21/27) of the ALV-J layer isolates with a high degree of genetic variation were significantly different from the env genes of the prototype strain of ALV-J (HPRS-103) and American and Chinese strains from meat-type chickens (designated ALV-J broiler isolates). A total of 205 nucleotides were deleted from the 3' untranslated region of 89.5% (17/19) of the ALV-J layer isolates. Approximately 94.7% (16/17) of the layer isolates contained a complete E element of 146 to 149 residues. The U3 sequences of 84.2% (16/19) of the ALV-J layer isolates displayed less than 92.5% sequence homology to those of the ALV-J broiler isolates, although the transcriptional regulatory elements that are typical of avian retroviruses were highly conserved. Several unique nucleotide substitutions in the env gene, the U3 region, and the E element of most of the ALV-J layer isolates were detected. These results suggested that the env gene, E element, and U3 region in the ALV-J layer isolates have evolved rapidly and were significantly different from those of the ALV-J broiler isolates. These findings will contribute to a better understanding of the pathogenic mechanism of layer tumor diseases induced by ALV-J.

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