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Genomic quasispecies associated with the initiation of infection and disease in ponies experimentally infected with equine infectious anemia virus.

ABSTRACT: Equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) provides a uniquely dynamic system in which to study the mechanism and role of genomic variation in lentiviral persistence and pathogenesis. We have used a Shetland pony model of infection to investigate the association of specific long terminal repeat (LTR) and env gene genomic sequences with the initiation of infection and the onset of disease. We analyzed viral RNA isolated from a pathogenic stock of virus (EIAV PV) and from plasma taken during the first disease episode from two ponies infected with EIAV PV. Overall sequence variation within gp90 was low in EIAV PV and only slightly higher in plasma virus samples isolated from ponies during the first disease episode. However, a high proportion of mutations were localized to the principal neutralizing domain in EIAV PV and to the principal neutralizing domain and the gp90 hypervariable region in the two pony-derived samples. The rate of fixation of mutations was analyzed and determined to be approximately 4 x 10(-2) mutations per site per year. Sequence diversity within the U3 region of the LTR was extremely low, which suggested that the previously reported hypervariability of this region may be a consequence of selection for replication of EIAV in different host cells. The predominant EIAV PV env and LTR sequences were used to construct chimeric viruses so that the contribution of these sequences to viral pathogenicity could be examined. The chimeras replicated in cultured equine monocytes to the same extent as the parental nonpathogenic virus and did not cause disease in Shetland ponies by 120 days postinfection, suggesting that the EIAV genomic determinants of pathogenesis are complex.

SUBMITTER: Lichtenstein DL 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC190205 | BioStudies | 1996-01-01T00:00:00Z


REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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