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Viruses 2017, 9(1), 6; doi:10.3390/v9010006

A Point Mutation in a Herpesvirus Co-Determines Neuropathogenicity and Viral Shedding

1
Department of Wildlife Diseases, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin 10315, Germany
2
Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
3
Baker Institute for Animal Health, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
4
Institut für Virologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Robert Von Ostertag-Str. 7 – 13, Berlin 14163, Germany
5
Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin, Oertzenweg 19b, Berlin 14163, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Joanna Parish
Received: 18 November 2016 / Revised: 3 January 2017 / Accepted: 3 January 2017 / Published: 10 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Viruses)
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Abstract

A point mutation in the DNA polymerase gene in equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) is one determinant for the development of neurological disease in horses. Three recently conducted infection experiments using domestic horses and ponies failed to detect statistically significant differences in viral shedding between the neuropathogenic and non-neuropathogenic variants. These results were interpreted as suggesting the absence of a consistent selective advantage of the neuropathogenic variant and therefore appeared to be inconsistent with a systematic increase in the prevalence of neuropathogenic strains. To overcome potential problems of low statistical power related to small group sizes in these infection experiments, we integrated raw data from all three experiments into a single statistical analysis. The results of this combined analysis showed that infection with the neuropathogenic EHV-1 variant led to a statistically significant increase in viral shedding. This finding is consistent with the idea that neuropathogenic strains could have a selective advantage and are therefore systematically increasing in prevalence in domestic horse populations. However, further studies are required to determine whether a selective advantage indeed exists for neuropathogenic strains. View Full-Text
Keywords: equine herpesvirus type 1; neuropathogenicity; viral shedding; trade-off hypothesis equine herpesvirus type 1; neuropathogenicity; viral shedding; trade-off hypothesis
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Franz, M.; Goodman, L.B.; Van de Walle, G.R.; Osterrieder, N.; Greenwood, A.D. A Point Mutation in a Herpesvirus Co-Determines Neuropathogenicity and Viral Shedding. Viruses 2017, 9, 6.

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