We have determined the nucleotide sequence of the region of the rubella virus genome which encodes amino acids 195–296 of the E1 glycoprotein (E1-195–296) from a panel of 22 rubella viruses obtained from Europe, USA and Asia between 1963–1995. E1-195–296 contains neutralizing and haemagglutinating determinants, and may represent a major antigenic domain. The nucleotide sequence divergence of the 22 rubella viruses compared to the Therien strain sequence ranged from 0.65–7.14%. The greatest sequence divergence occurred in two rubella viruses of Indian origin, and was more than twofold greater than that previously reported for rubella virus. The majority of nucleotide changes occurring in the 22 viruses did not effect the deduced amino acid sequence of E1-195–296. Two rubella viruses isolated from cases of reinfection in pregnancy did not exhibit nucleotide sequence variation resulting in changes in the deduced amino acid sequence of E1-195–296, suggesting that antigenic change within this region of E1 is not associated with rubella reinfection. A rubella virus isolated from a synovial fluid sample exhibited a nucleotide substitution in a putative neutralization domain contained within E1-195–296. Phylogenetic analysis was performed to study the relationship between E1-195–296 coding sequences of the 22 viruses in this report and corresponding sequences of other rubella viruses in the databank.


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