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Characteristics of far eastern strains of tick-borne encephalitis virus

Leonova, Galina N., Belikov, Sergei I., Kondratov, Ilya G.
Archives of virology 2017 v.162 no.8 pp. 2211-2218
Tick-borne encephalitis virus, brain, epidemiology, freeze drying, mice, microbiology, models, phylogeny, sequence analysis, East Asia
A comparative study of biological, molecular and genetic characteristics of a collection of ten strains of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) isolated in Primorsky Krai before 1960 and stored in a lyophilized state for a prolonged period (over 65 years) is presented. The collection includes the Sofjin strain isolated from the brain of a fatal case in Primorsky Krai in 1937 and transferred to the Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology (Vladivostok) in 1953. All lyophilized viral strains demonstrated great preservation and high infectious activity in the model of 2-day-old non-inbred mice. Whole-genome sequencing showed that all strains belong to the Far East TBEV subtype, comprising three clusters of Sofjin-, Oshima- and Senzhang-like strains. We show that SofjinPYB, Sofjin (Vector) and Sofjin-HO strains form a separate branch of the phylogenetic tree and are closely related to Khabarovsk-Obor-4, but not to the original Sofjin strain. The Sofjin-1953, Sofijin-Chumakov, SofjinKSY and SofjinCDC strains are genetically close to each other and can be used as reference strains for comparative analysis of the tick-borne encephalitis virus population.