Acta Vet. Brno 2009, 78: 273-280

Phylogenetic Analysis of the Rabies Virus N-coding Region in Lithuanian Rabies Isolates

Dainius Zienius1, Kristina Sajute2, Henrikas Žilinskas2, Arunas Stankevicius2

1Veterinary Institute of Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, Kaisiadorys, Lithuania,
2Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, Kaunas, Lithuania

Received July 17, 2008
Accepted November 12, 2008

Rabies infection among wild and domestic animals constitutes a well-known problem in Lithuania, but only one dog rabies virus isolate sequence (1992) from Lithuania was used in the European rabies virus phylogenetic analysis. The objective of this work was to determine nucleoprotein (N) gene sequences and genetically characterize the rabies virus isolates in order to learn which virus group (biotype) is circulating in reservoir species in Lithuania. Classical rabies virus isolate nucleoprotein (N) gene sequences from different parts of Lithuania were found to be closely related to each other and demonstrated nucleotide identity from 97.7 to 100% and could be placed in one lineage with 100% bootstrap support. All 12 sequences of raccoon dogs, red foxes, dogs and marten rabies viruses exhibited 97.7 - 99.0% identity to previously published sequences from Eastern parts of Poland, Estonia, Finland, and the North-Eastern part of Russia. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that all Lithuanian strains belong to the North East Europe (NEE) group of rabies virus.