Archives of virology 2017 02 17() doi 10.1007/s00705-017-3241-4
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is the causative agent of enzootic bovine leukosis (EBL), a disease that has worldwide distribution. Whilst it has been eradicated in most of Western Europe and Scandinavia, it remains a problem in other regions, particularly Eastern Europe and South America. For this study, in 2013, 24 cattle from three farms in three regions of Moldova were screened by ELISA and nested PCR. Of these cattle, 14 which were PCR positive, and these were molecularly characterized based on the nucleotide sequence of the env gene and the deduced amino acid sequence of the encoded gp51 protein. Our results demonstrated a low level of genetic variability (0-2.9%) among BLV field strains from Moldova, in contrast to that observed for other retroviruses, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (20-38%) Mason IL (Trudy vologod moloch Inst 146-164, 1970) and equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) (~40%) Willems L et al (AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses 16(16):1787-1795, 2000), where the envelope gene exhibits high levels of variation Polat M et al (Retrovirology 13(1):4, 2016). Sequence comparisons and phylogenetic analysis revealed that BLV genotype 7 (G7) is predominant in Moldova and that the BLV population in Moldovan cattle is a mixture of at least three new sub-genotypes: G7D, G7E and G4C. Neutrality tests revealed that negative selection was the major force operating upon the 51-kDa BLV envelope surface glycoprotein subunit gp51, although one positively selected site within conformational epitope G was detected in the N-terminal part of gp51. Furthermore, two functional domains, linear epitope B and the zinc-binding domain, were found to have an elevated ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous codon differences. Together, these data suggest that the evolutionary constraints on epitopes G and B and the zinc-binding domains of gp51 differ from those on the other domains, with a tendency towards formation of homogenous genetic groups, which is a common concept of global BLV diversification during virus transmission that may be associated with genetic drift.