Equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) can be classified into distinct groups by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in their genomes. Only a few of these can be associated with a special attribute of the virus. Differences in the ORF30 region can determine the neuropathogenic potential, while by substitutions in the ORF68 region several strain groups can be made. In previous studies no connection was found between the neuropathogenic potential and the SNPs in ORF68, but the occurrence of members of distinct groups in different outbreaks can facilitate epidemiological investigations because the geographical distribution of a particular group is very often specific. The present study aimed at the molecular examination and grouping of 35 EHV-1 strains isolated from aborted equine fetuses in Hungary between 1977 and 2008. Genotyping was based on the comparison of nucleotide sequences of a polymorphic segment located in the ORF68 region, which had previously been found to be a useful tool for classification. After sequencing this region, the Hungarian EHV-1 isolates could be classified into seven groups. Only 23 of the 35 isolates belonged to the formerly described groups, while the SNPs of 12 isolates diverged, and four new groups could be set up. In addition, phylogenetic analysis was performed to compare the ORF68 sequences of the Hungarian strains with the sequences of isolates from Europe, America and Australia. The number of newly formed groups suggests that the further analysis of unknown EHV-1 isolates would involve the emergence of extended numbers of new groups, which can impair the usability of this grouping method.
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