Application of single-strand conformation polymorphism to the study of bovine viral diarrhea virus isolates


Instituto de Virologia, Centro de Investigacion en Ciencias Veterinarias y Agronomicas, INTA-Castelar, Moron, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products is a genetic screening technique for rapid detection of nucleotide substitutions in PCR-amplified genomic DNA or cDNA. It is based on the observation that partially formamide-denatured double-stranded DNA migrates as 2 single-stranded DNA molecules when electrophoresed in nondenaturing polyacrylamide gels. The mobility depends on the 3-dimensional conformation of the strand under the conditions used. It is possible to discriminate between DNA strands differing in only 1 nucleotide. The method was applied to the analysis of Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) isolates. Reference and Argentinian strains were assessed for variations in their 5′ untranslated region (5′-UTR). The PCR products of the 5′-UTR ends were formamide denatured and compared by SSCP analysis in nondenaturing 15% polyacrylamide and 15% polyacrilamide-5% glycerol gels. The reference strains SD-1, Singer, and Oregon C24V had differences in electrophoretic patterns. Despite the high conservation among the 5′-UTR of pestiviruses, the method allowed discrimination among all 9 Argentinian isolates. The 5′-UTR of a fetal kidney-derived isolate (1R93) was PCR amplified and cloned in a plasmid vector; the SSCP analysis of 30 PCR products obtained by direct amplification over randomly selected clones produced 5 different banding patterns, indicating the existence of viral quasispecies. The results show that SSCP may be used to identify and differentiate among BVDV isolates.


Jones LR, Weber EL: J Vet Diagn Invest 13: 50-56.