Louping ill virus (LIV) in the Far East.
This study focused on finding, culturing, and identifying the biological and genetic characteristics of three louping ill virus (LIV) strains in the south of the Russian Far East. The Primorye-155-77 and Primorye-20-79 virus strains were isolated from Ixodes persulcatus ticks, and the Primorye-185-91 strain was isolated from the blood of a person after a tick bite. According to the hemagglutination and neutralization tests, Primorye-155-77, Primorye-20-79 and Primorye-185-91 had weak reactivity with antibodies in an antiserum against tick-borne encephalitis virus. In Primorye-155-77 and Primorye-20-79, the sequences of the 5′ ends of the 2456-nucleotide-long viral RNA including the 5′ untranslated region (UTR) and genes of the capsid protein, prM protein and envelope E protein were determined. The complete genome sequence of Primorye-185-91 was determined. The E protein gene of the Negishi strain differed from those of three analyzed strains, as there were mutations resulting in the replacement of three amino acids: Ala163Thr, Asp193Asn and Ala313Thr. The homology of Primorye-185-91 to LIV 369/T2 was 97.57%, and to the Penrith strain, it was 98.36%. Phylogenetic analysis showed that Primorye-155-77, Primorye-20-79 and Primorye-185-91 are related to LI/A and LI/K strains isolated in England and Scotland and to the Negishi strain; these strains have a common progenitor. Negishi-like strains were represented by one subtype of louping ill virus, i.e. the British subtype (LIV-Brit). The possibility is discussed of a single introduction of the virus to the Far Eastern region (Japan and Primorsky Krai) from a single natural locus more than 50 years ago.