Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) causes significant economic losses in Turkish livestock.
We have analysed the genetic diversity of the 1D sequences, encoding the hypervariable surface protein VP1, of Turkish isolates of serotype A and O collected from 1998 to 2004 in order to obtain epidemiological and immunological information.
The 1D coding region of 33 serotype O and 20 serotype A isolates, obtained from outbreaks of FMD between 1998 and 2004, was sequenced.
For serotype A, we confirmed the occurrence of the two subtypes IRN99 and IRN96. These subtypes are most divergent within the region encoding the immuno-dominant GH-loop. Also a close relationship to Foot-and-Mouth Disease virus (FMDV) serotype A isolates obtained from outbreaks in Iraq and Iran were detected and a clustering of isolates collected during the same period of time were found.
The analysis of the deduced amino-acid sequences of these subtypes revealed evidence of positive selection in one site and one deletion, both within the GH-loop region. By inferring the ancestral history of the positively selected codon, two potential precursors were found. Furthermore, the structural alignment of IRN99 and IRN96 revealed differences between the tertiary structures of these subtypes.
The similarity plot of the serotype O isolates suggested a more homogeneous group than the serotype A isolates. However, phylogenetic analysis revealed two major groups, each further divided in subgroups, of which some only consisted of Turkish isolates.
Positively selected sites and structural differences of the Turkish isolates analysed, were not found.
The sequence and structural analysis of the IRN99 strains is indicative of positive selection suggesting an immunological advantage compared to IRN96. However, results of antigenic comparison reported elsewhere do not substantiate such a conclusion. There is evidence that IRN99 was introduced to Turkey, in all probability from Iran.
Since, a member of the IRN96 lineage was included as a component of the FMDV vaccine produced since 2000, the outbreaks caused by IRN96 strains in 2004 could be due to incomplete vaccine coverage.
The Turkish type O strains, all with a VP1 structure similar to the O1/Manisa/69 vaccine, appear in several sublineages. Whether these sublineages reflect multiple samplings from a limited number of outbreaks, or if they reflect cross-boundary introductions is not clear.