Marek's disease (MD) is a highly contagious, lymphoproliferative poultry disease caused by the oncogenic herpesvirus, serotype 1 Marek's disease virus (MDV-1), or Gallid herpesvirus 2 (GaHV-2). MDV strains have shown a continued evolution of virulence leading to immune failure, and MD cases continue to occur or surge. Meq, the major MDV-1 oncoprotein, induces T-cell neoplastic transformation through several mechanisms including inhibition of apoptosis, cell cycle regulation, and serum-anchorage independent growth. There is no current information on the MDV serotypes and pathotypes circulating in vaccinated commercial farms in Iran, where the birds are vaccinated at the hatchery with GaHV-2 and Meleagrid herpesvirus 1 (MeHV-1) vaccines. This study reports the molecular characterization of a GaHV-2 strain detected in 19 flocks of Iranian layer farms exhibiting MDV-1–like clinical signs and visceral lymphomas. Based on sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of the Meq gene, the Iranian GaHV-2 isolates could be divided into two separate clades regarding molecular features. The clade containing strains was closely related to Italian, Indian, and Hungarian virulent isolates, and the clade was related to American very virulent plus (vv+) isolates. For the first time, the MDV-1 virus was characterized by an outbreak in poultry flocks in Iran. Although MDV-1 strains obtained in Iran's present outbreak are presumably related to virulent (v) and vv+ pathotypes based on nucleotide, amino acid, and phylogenetic analysis of the viruses, they are not confirmed so far. Thus, it is highly recommended to perform further analyses to demonstrate the pathotype characteristics in vivo.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.