We have studied a horse which exhibited typical clinical signs of disease when experimentally infected with a non-adapted virulent strain of equine infectious anaemia virus (EIAV), designated V70. Five viruses (F1V, F2V, F3V, F4V and F5V) were recovered during periodic febrile episodes. Cross-neutralization tests revealed that all of these variants and the parental V70 were antigenically distinct. Sequencing of their full-length env gp90 genes and gp45 5' sequences revealed novel mutations at a limited number of nucleotide positions, consisting of insertions and duplications in the gp90 principal neutralizing domain (PND) in F1V, F3V and F5V. Parts or all of small units (6, 9 and 12 nucleotides) located just before the insertion site were used for the duplications. Furthermore, amino acid substitutions in the env PND and hypervariable region were also observed in all five viruses. These mutations may contribute to the generation of serial variants. Consequently, the full-length gp90 sequences showed close relationships between V70, F2V and F4V, and between F1V, F3V and F5V. In addition to the two domains (PND and hypervariable region), a comparison of these viruses with the reported env gp90 sequences revealed four additional variable domains, although these four domains were highly conserved among the five variants.


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