[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:
The Turkey Meningoencephalitis virus (TMEV) causes neuroparalytic signs, paresis, in-coordination, morbidity and mortality in turkeys. In parallel to the increased worldwide scientific interest in veterinary avian flaviviruses, including the Bagaza, Tembusu and Tembusu-related BYD virus, TMEV-caused disease also reemergence in commercial turkeys during late summer of 2010. While initially TMEV was detected by NS5-gene RT-PCR, subsequently, the env-gene RT-PCR was employed. As lately several inconsistencies were observed between the clinical, serological and molecular detection of the TMEV env gene, this study evaluated whether genetic changes occurred in the recently isolated viruses, and sought to optimize and improve the direct TMEV amplification from brain tissues of affected turkeys. The main findings indicated that no changes occurred during the years in the TMEV genome, but the PCR detection sensitivities of the env and NS5 genes differed. The RT-PCR and RNA purification were optimized for direct amplification from brain tissues without pre-replication of clinical samples in tissue cultures or in embryonated eggs. The amplification sensitivity of the NS5-gene was 10-100 times more than the env-gene when separate. The new dual-gene amplification RT-PCR was similar to that of the NS5 gene, therefore the assay can be considered as a reliable diagnostic assay. Cases where one of the two amplicons would be RT-PCR negative would alert and warn on the virus identity, and possible genetic changes. In addition, the biochemical environment of the dual-gene amplification reaction seemed to contribute in deleting non-specific byproducts that occasionally appeared in the singular RT-PCR assays on RNA purified from brain tissues.