The aim of this study was to develop a standardized molecular assay that used limited resources and equipment for routine genotyping of isolates of the fish rhabdovirus, viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHSV). Computer generated restriction maps, based on 62 unique full-length (1524 nt) sequences of the VHSV glycoprotein (G) gene, were used to predict restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns that were subsequently grouped and compared with a phylogenetic analysis of the G-gene sequences of the same set of isolates. Digestion of PCR amplicons from the full-length G-gene by a set of three restriction enzymes was predicted to accurately enable the assignment of the VHSV isolates into the four major genotypes discovered to date. Further sub-typing of the isolates into the recently described sub-lineages of genotype I was possible by applying three additional enzymes. Experimental evaluation of the method consisted of three steps: (i) RT-PCR amplification of the G-gene of VHSV isolates using purified viral RNA as template, (ii) digestion of the PCR products with a panel of restriction endonucleases and (iii) interpretation of the resulting RFLP profiles. The RFLP analysis was shown to approximate the level of genetic discrimination obtained by other, more labour-intensive, molecular techniques such as the ribonuclease protection assay or sequence analysis. In addition, 37 previously uncharacterised isolates from diverse sources were assigned to specific genotypes. While the assay was able to distinguish between marine and continental isolates of VHSV, the differences did not correlate with the pathogenicity of the isolates.
Veterinary Microbiology, 2005, Vol 106, Issue 3-4, p. 167-178