Genetic Variation among Geographic Isolates of Rift Valley Fever Virus

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  • Virology Division, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland 21701

The genetic variation of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) was estimated by sequencing a portion of the M segment RNA of 22 isolates from a variety of host species collected over 34 years in 6 African countries. The M segment RNA of the Egyptian isolate, ZH501, which has been molecularly cloned and sequenced, was used as a reference for these comparisons. Specific gene regions, responsible for antigenic determinants presumed to play a role in protection against disease, were emphasized in these investigations. Comparative sequence data revealed that most isolates were very similar to ZH501 at both the nucleic acid and deduced amino acid sequence levels. Nucleic acid sequence variation range was 0–4.5%. Amino acid sequence variation range was 0–2.4%. We identified specific amino acid coding changes which may be involved in virus neutralization and may contribute to the virulence characteristics of RVFV.