Full genome sequencing of archived wild type and vaccine rinderpest virus isolates prior to their destruction

When rinderpest virus (RPV) was declared eradicated in 2011, the only remaining samples of this once much-feared livestock virus were those held in various laboratories. In order to allow the destruction of our institute's stocks of RPV while maintaining the ability to recover the various viruses if ever required, we have determined the full genome sequence of all our distinct samples of RPV, including 51 wild type viruses and examples of three different types of vaccine strain. Examination of the sequences of these virus isolates has shown that the African isolates form a single disparate clade, rather than two separate clades, which is more in accord with the known history of the virus in Africa. We have also identified two groups of goat-passaged viruses which have acquired an extra 6 bases in the long untranslated region between the M and F protein coding sequences, and shown that, for more than half the genomes sequenced, translation of the F protein requires translational frameshift or non-standard translation initiation. Curiously, the clade containing the lapinised vaccine viruses that were developed originally in Korea appears to be more similar to the known African viruses than to any other Asian viruses.

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