Sequence analysis of theMeqgene in the predominant Marek's disease virus strains isolated in China during 2006-2008

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The main aim of the present study were to investigate sequence diversity in the Meq gene of Marek's disease viruses (MDV) isolated in China and to determine the most prevalent MDV strains. The 19 MDV strains were isolated from dead or diseased chickens from different chicken farms in China during 2006-2008, and the Meq gene was sequenced from each of these strains. Sequence analysis showed that all of the isolates contained an open reading frame of 1020 nucleotides, which encoded a 339 amino acid peptide. Compared with reference MDV strains, 12 of the 19 MDV isolates possessed two amino acid substitutions, (T→A) at position 139 and (P→R) at position 176, one isolate shared sequence similarity with the attenuated strain CVI988, and five of the other six isolates exhibited one amino acid change (P→T) at position 177 or 176. The 19 MDV isolates shared between 99.0 and 100% nucleotide sequence homology, and between 97.7 and 100% amino acid sequence homology. The nucleotide and amino acid sequence identity between the 19 MDV isolates and the 25 reference MDV strains varied from 97.6 to 100% and 94.4 to 100%, respectively. Based on the phylogenetic relationships between Meq gene sequences, Chinese MDV isolates constituted a separate clade to MDV reference strains, demonstrating that a different genotype of MDV was prevalent in China between 2006 and 2008.

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