The deduced amino acid sequences of the open reading frames (ORFs) mapping in the short unique segment (U) of Marek's disease virus (MDV) reported in the accompanying paper have been analysed using computer programs to determine their relationships to herpesvirus proteins. Analysis of the catalytic domains of protein kinases showed that the MDV kinase (MDV PK) was closely related to the alphaherpesvirus protein kinase mapping in U. The results also showed that the MDV PK was more closely related to the cellular kinases that control cell division than to the proto-oncogenes c- and c- and it was predicted that the MDV PK would phosphorylate serine/threonine. The MDV homologue of herpes simplex virus (HSV) glycoprotein D (gD) contained several residues that were conserved in mammalian herpesviruses. In particular, six cysteines were perfectly aligned in all the gDs and there were numerous conservative substitutions. Although only approximately 65% of the MDV homologue of glycoprotein I (gI) of HSV has been sequenced, it was clear that a significant number of amino acid residues including four cysteines were conserved in the gI homologues of MDV and mammalian herpesviruses. Further analysis suggested that MDV gD was more closely related to the gDs of pseudorabies virus (PRV) and equine herpesvirus 1 than to the gD of HSV-1 and HSV-2. It was noted that HSV-2 glycoprotein G (gG), PRV gX and MDV gD were related and that MDV ORF4 was related to MDV gD and probably to HSV-1 gG. The results have shown a clear relationship between the genes of MDV and their counterparts in mammalian alphaherpesviruses and are consistent with the idea that MDV glycoprotein genes in U might have arisen by a process of gene duplication and independent evolution.


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