Since the first reported cases of ducks infected with a previously unknown flavivirus in eastern China in April 2010, the virus, provisionally designated Duck Tembusu Virus (DTMUV), has spread widely in domestic ducks in China and caused significant economic losses to poultry industry. In this study, we examined in detail structural, antigenic, and evolutionary properties of envelope (E) proteins of six DTMUV isolates spanning 2010-2012, each being isolated from individual farms with different geographical locations where disease outbreaks were documented. Structural analysis showed that E proteins of DTMUV and its closely related flavivirus (Japanese Encephalitis Virus) shared a conserved array of predicted functional domains and motifs. Among the six DTMUV strains, mutations were observed only at thirteen amino acid positions across three separate domains of the E protein. Interestingly, these genetic polymorphisms resulted in no detectable change in viral neutralization properties as demonstrated in a serum neutralization assay. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis of the nucleotide sequences of the E proteins showed that viruses evolved into two distinct genotypes, termed as DTMUV.I and DTMUV.II, with II emerging as the dominant genotype. New findings described here shall give insights into the antigenicity and evolution of this new pathogen and provide guidance for further functional studies of the E protein for which no effective vaccine has yet been developed. © 2013 Yu et al.
Yu, K., Sheng, Z. Z., Huang, B., Ma, X., Li, Y., Yuan, X., … Sun, H. (2013). Structural, Antigenic, and Evolutionary Characterizations of the Envelope Protein of Newly Emerging Duck Tembusu Virus. PLoS ONE, 8(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071319