University of Limerick
Arkins_2018_Equid.pdf (1.68 MB)

Equid herpesvirus 8: complete genome sequence and association with abortion in mares

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-02-15, 14:22 authored by Marie Garvey, Nicolás M. Suárez, Karen Kerr, Ralph D. Hector, Laura Moloney-Quinn, SEAN ARKINSSEAN ARKINS, Andrew J. Davison, Ann Cullinane
Equid herpesvirus 8 (EHV-8), formerly known as asinine herpesvirus 3, is an alpha herpesvirus that is closely related to equid herpesviruses 1 and 9 (EHV-1 and EHV-9). The pathogenesis of EHV-8 is relatively little studied and to date has only been associated with respiratory disease in donkeys in Australia and horses in China. A single EHV-8 genome sequence has been generated for strain Wh in China, but is apparently incomplete and contains frame shifts in two genes. In this study, the complete genome sequences of four EHV-8 strains isolated in Ireland between 2003 and 2015 were determined by Illumina sequencing. Two of these strains were isolated from cases of abortion in horses, and were misdiagnosed initially as EHV-1, and two were isolated from donkeys, one with neurological disease. The four genome sequences are very similar to each other, exhibiting greater than 98.4% nucleotide identity, and their phylogenetic clustering together demonstrated that genomic diversity is not dependent on the host. Comparative genomic analysis revealed 24 of the 76 predicted protein sequences are completely conserved among the Irish EHV-8 strains. Evolutionary comparisons indicate that EHV-8 is phylogenetically closer to EHV-9 than it is to EHV-1. In summary, the first complete genome sequences of EHV-8 isolates from two host species over a twelve year period are reported. The current study suggests that EHV-8 can cause abortion in horses. The potential threat of EHV-8 to the horse industry and the possibility that donkeys may act as reservoirs of infection warrant further investigation.


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PLoS ONE;13 (2): e0192301


Public Library of Science



Other Funding information

IRC, Medical Research Council



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