The biochemical basis for variation in foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) has been explored by analysis of the virus RNA and the virus-induced and structural proteins of three isolates of the virus. Two of the isolates were from serotype A and the third was from serotype O. Hybridization studies of the RNAs showed greater than 80% homology between the two type A viruses and about 65% homology between the two type A viruses and the virus of type O. The ribonuclease T maps of the three viruses gave distinct patterns typical of FMDV, but did not show that any two of the three viruses were more closely related. The virus-induced primary translation products, P88, P52 and P100 isolated from infected cells, were compared by tryptic peptide analysis. Combinations of H- and C-leucine-labelled polypeptides were hydrolysed with trypsin and resolved on an ion-exchange column. Much greater differences were found in P88 than in P52 or P100, indicating that the major variation occurs in the region of the genome coding for the structural proteins. Similar analysis of combinations of the structural proteins of the three viruses showed that there were differences in VP1, VP2 and VP3 and these results were supported by those obtained by PAGE analysis of the V8 protease cleavage products.


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