a1 Rabies Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA
a2 Institute of Evolutionary Biology, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
a3 State Medical University, Irkutsk, Russia
a4 Ivanovsky Institute of Virology, Moscow, Russia
Forty-one newly sequenced isolates of Arctic and Arctic-like rabies viruses, were genetically compared to each other and to those available from GenBank. Four phylogenetic lineages of Arctic viruses were identified. Arctic-1 viruses circulate in Ontario, Arctic-2 viruses circulate in Siberia and Alaska, Arctic-3 viruses circulate circumpolarly, and a newly described lineage Arctic-4 circulates locally in Alaska. The oldest available isolates from Siberia (between 1950 and 1960) belong to the Arctic-2 and Arctic-3 lineages and share 98·6–99·2% N gene identity with contemporary viruses. Two lineages of Arctic-like viruses were identified in southern Asia and the Middle East (Arctic-like-1) and eastern Asia (Arctic-like-2). A time-scaled tree demonstrates that the time of the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) of Arctic and Arctic-like viruses is dated between 1255 and 1786. Evolution of the Arctic viruses has occurred through a northerly spread. The Arctic-like-2 lineage diverged first, whereas Arctic viruses share a TMRCA with Arctic-like-1 viruses.
(Accepted May 26 2007)
(Online publication June 29 2007)
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