The molecular cloning and characterization of an RI fragment, 8.26 kb in size, of an Australian isolate of bovine leukaemia virus (pBLV-A1) is described. This fragment includes most of the proviral genome as well as 340 bp of flanking bovine DNA sequence at the 5′ end. Approximately 790 bp, including the 3′ long terminal repeat, was missing from this clone. At the level of restriction enzyme mapping, this isolate could be distinguished from American, Belgian and Japanese isolates. DNA sequencing of the entire clone demonstrated some variation at the amino acid level between pBLV-A1 and the Japanese and Belgian isolates, particularly in the gene. In that gene there were 59 amino acid changes compared to the Japanese isolate and 24 compared to the Belgian isolate. The greater number in the case of the Japanese isolate was due to both single nucleotide changes and frameshift in a single region of the gene. This study also demonstrates that there are large tracts of amino acid sequence, particularly within the and genes, that are highly conserved in different isolates. Some of these conserved sequences exist in regions containing epitopes important in virus infectivity.


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