Genome of reindeer mouth disease virus has been sequenced


<p>Reindeer mouth disease is caused by Parapoxvirus; it spreads easily and results in significant financial losses to reindeer husbandry. The disease occurs typically in winter. It causes painful lesions as well as loss of appetite, and also makes the animals susceptible to secondary bacterial infections. The disease can be fatal. Parapoxvirus was for the first time verified in Finnish reindeer during the outbreak of mouth disease in the winter of 1992–1993 and the disease has since then occurred evenly. The disease is a zoonosis, which means the virus can be transmitted to people who handle affected reindeer, and cause pustules on their skin.</p>

In order to eradicate a disease, the virus that causes it has to be known. Finnish reindeer have been found to carry two types of Parapoxvirus; one that resembles Orf virus (ORFV), which is maintained in sheep, and another that resembles Pseudocowpoxvirus (PCPV), which is maintained in cattle. The "new" reindeer Parapoxvirus resembling the PCPV virus was identified in the winter 2000 epidemic and has since been the primary causal virus of the mouth disease in Finland. Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira has concluded a genome sequencing project of the PCPV-like reindeer Parapoxvirus.

The genome of reindeer Parapoxvirus proved structurally similar to other sequenced poxviruses. The virus has 131 genes, whose order and similarity to the PCPV genes confirm the reindeer virus to be of bovine origin. Comparisons of the entire genome proved that the PCPV is more closely related to the sheep ORFV than to the bovine papular stomatitis virus (BPSV). This may partly explain the susceptibility of reindeer to both ORF- and PCP-viruses. The reindeer virus has the majority of known or putative virulence genes thus far described in the Parapoxviruses, and also new genes that have not been identified in other viruses. The differences found between the reindeer PCP- and the sheep ORF- viruses in terms of immunomodulatory and virulence genes may be linked to different disease phenotypes in the mouth disease outbreaks of the 1990s and 2000s.

The project was conducted in collaboration with Moredun Research Institute from Scotland, the Viral Research Unit of the University of Otago in New Zealand, and the High Throughput Center and the Sequencing Laboratory of Molecular Medicine of Biomedicum Helsinki.

The research results have been published in the J Gen Virol 2010: 91, pp. 1560 – 1576. Hautaniemi M, Ueda N, Tuimala J, Mercer AA, Lahdenperä J, McInnes CJ.
The genome of Pseudocowpoxvirus: comparison of a reindeer isolate and a reference strain.

For more information, please contact:
Researcher Maria Hautaniemi, Veterinary Virology Research Unit ,
maria.hautaniemi, tel. +358 (0) 50 573 6891


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