Equine arteritis virus (EAV) is the cause of equine
viral arteritis. The virus can be spread via two distinct
routes, namely via aerosol as a respiratory infection or via
sexual contact, in the semen of persistently infected stallions.
The consequences of infection vary from mild or inapparent
respiratory infection to more severe disease, including the
induction of abortion.
EAV is an RNA virus, with a single RNA molecule encoding
the virus genome encapsidated by an icosahedral nucleocapsid
and surrounded by an outer membrane, also known as the virion
envelope. A schematic representation of a virus particle is
A number of virus proteins present in the virion envelope
have been identified, which may be important for the virus
to attach to and enter into cells. Such envelope proteins
are also likely to be principal targets for antibodies able
to neutralise the virus and hence protect against virus infection.
One of these proteins, the 'large glycoprotein' (GL) has been
shown to be the major target for virus neutralising antibodies.
Studies have predominantly focussed upon the development
of improved diagnostic tests for EAV infection and the identification
of targets for improved vaccination strategies. For the latter
area, there is considerable interaction with the Immunology
group. In addition, we have recently initiated studies directed
at understanding the process whereby the virus attaches to
and enters into cells. These studies will focus upon characterising
the interaction between the envelope proteins GL and M, which
form a GL/M complex believed to be critical for virus binding
and entry. For further information click here.
EAV research has been supported by a number of external
bodies, including the European Breeders Fund, MAFF, the EU,
the HBLB and the BBSRC.
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