The DNA sequence of the fowlpox virus genome corresponding to the vaccinia virus D6 to A1 region has been determined. Translation of this sequence reveals fowlpoxvirus gene homologues corresponding to the D6, D7, D9, D10, D11, D12, D13 and A1 genes of vaccinia virus. In contrast, no gene homologue for the non-essential vaccinia virus D8 gene was present in fowlpox virus. Instead, a gene transcribed from the opposite strand to the vaccinia virus D8 gene showing no homology to any previously sequenced poxvirus gene was present. The amino terminus of the fowlpox virus D9 homologue had undergone substantial changes, including frameshifts which would be predicted to inactivate the gene. Insertion of a gene cartridge composed of the vaccinia virus p7.5 promoter and the gene into the fowlpox virus D8, D9 and D10 genes , followed by recombination into fowlpox virus, was carried out. Stable insertion mutants with the correct genotype were obtained for D8 and D9 which, when tested in chickens did not appear to have been attenuated. No stable insertion mutants were obtained for D10, indicating that this gene probably encodes a function which is essential for virus replication. The D8 and D9 genes of fowlpox virus represent useful insertion sites for the construction of recombinant fowlpox virus vaccines.


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