Quasispecies composition and diversity do not reveal any predictors for chronic classical swine fever virus infection
Classical swine fever (CSF) can run acute, chronic, and prenatal courses in both domestic pigs and wild boar. Although chronic infections are rare events, their epidemiological impact is very high due to the long-term shedding of virus. So far, little is known about the factors that influence disease course and outcome from either the host or virus’s perspective. To elucidate the viral determinants, we analyzed the role of the viral populations for the development of chronic CSF virus (CSFV) infections. Three different animal trials that had led to both chronic and acute infections were chosen for a detailed analysis by deep sequencing. The three inocula represented sub-genogroups 2.1 and 2.3, and two viruses were wild-type CSFV, one derived from an infectious cDNA clone. These viruses and samples derived from acutely and chronically infected animals were subjected to next-generation sequencing. Subsequently, the derived full-length genomes were compared at both the consensus and the quasispecies level. At consensus level, no differences were observed between the parental viruses and the viruses obtained from chronically infected animals. Despite a considerable level of variability at the quasispecies level, no indications were found for any predictive pattern with regard to the chronicity of the CSFV infections. While there might be no direct marker for chronicity, moderate virulence of some CSFV strains in itself seems to be a crucial prerequisite for the establishment of long-term infections which does not need further genetic adaption. Thus, general host and virus factors need further investigation.
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