Phylogenetic analysis of the haemagglutinin gene of canine distemper virus strains detected from breeding foxes, raccoon dogs and minks in China.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) infects a variety of carnivores, including wild and domestic Canidae. Genetic/antigenic heterogeneity has been observed among the various CDV strains, notably in the haemagglutinin (H) gene, that appears as a good target to gather epidemiological information. Based on sequence analysis of the H gene, wild-type CDV strains cluster into distinct geographic lineages (genotypes), irrespective of the species of isolation. The sequence of the H gene of 28 CDV strains detected from both vaccinated and non-vaccinated breeding foxes, raccoon dogs and minks from different geographical areas of China during the years 2004-2008 was determined. All the CDV strains but two (strains HL and HLJ2) were characterized as Asia-1 genotype and were highly similar to each other (96.2-99.7% at the amino acid [aa] level) and to other Asia-1 strains (96.1-99.5% aa) previously detected in China. The CDV strains HL and HLJ2 were both collected from foxes in Heilongjiang province in 2005. Strain HL resembled CDVs of the Arctic genotype (GR88-like) and displayed high aa identity (98.0%) to the Chinese canine strain Liu. By converse, strain HLJ2 was barely related to CDVs of the Asia-2 genotype (88.7-90.3% aa identity), and could represent a novel CDV genotype, tentatively proposed as Asia-3. These results suggest that at least three different CDV genotypes, distantly related (81.8-91.6% aa identity) to the vaccine strains, Onderstepoort-like (America-1 genotype), are currently circulating in breeding foxes, raccoon dogs and minks in China, and that the genotype Asia-1 is predominant. Whether the diversity between wild-type CDVs and the vaccine strains may affect, to some extent, the efficacy of the vaccines deserves further investigations.