We have cloned and sequenced the entire fusion (F) protein gene of the RBOK vaccine strain of rinderpest virus and the coding regions for the F genes of two mild field isolates of the virus from Africa. Analysis of the nucleotide and the predicted amino acid sequences showed that the vaccine virus was more than 99% identical in the protein coding region to the virulent Kabete O strain from which it was derived, whereas the field isolates differed by 10 to 12% from each other and from the vaccine strain. No changes were found in the F protein which could explain attenuation of the vaccine; however, each of the mild field isolates had amino acid changes in important functional areas which may be related to their attenuated phenotype.


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