1. Key Laboratory of Animal Disease Diagnosis and Immunology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Ministry of Agriculture, Nanjing 210095, China 2. Institute of Applied Ecology. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China 3. College of Veterinary Medicine, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China
Duck enteritis virus (DEV) is a herpesvirus that causes an acute, contagious and fatal disease. In the present article, the DEV UL4 gene was cloned and sequenced from a vaccine virus. A degenerate oligonucleotide primer for the consensus site of herpesvirus UL3 gene and a specific primer located in UL5 were used in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify a DNA product 2 086 bp in size. DNA sequence analysis revealed that a 714 bp open reading frame (ORF) of DEV encoding a 237 amino acid polypeptide is homologous to the family of herpesvirus UL4 proteins and therefore has been characterized as a DEV UL4 gene. Alignment of the DEV UL4 protein sequence with those of other alphaherpesviruses showed that 10 amino acid residues are completely conserved. Phylogenetic tree analysis showed that the seventeen alphaherpesviruses viruses analyzed were classified into four large groups, and the duck enteritis virus branched separately, closely related to the Mardiviruses group comprising Gallid herpesvirus 2 (GaHV-2), Gallid herpesvirus 3 (GaHV-3) and Meleagrid herpesvirus 1 (MeHV-1). The present study showed that the evolutionary relationship of the UL4 protein could be used for classification of alphaherpesviruses.