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Arctic and Arctic-like rabies viruses: distribution, phylogeny and evolutionary history

  • I. V. KUZMIN (a1), G. J. HUGHES (a2), A. D. BOTVINKIN (a3), S. G. GRIBENCHA (a4) and C. E. RUPPRECHT (a1)...

Forty-one newly sequenced isolates of Arctic and Arctic-like rabies viruses, were genetically compared to each other and to those available from GenBank. Four phylogenetic lineages of Arctic viruses were identified. Arctic-1 viruses circulate in Ontario, Arctic-2 viruses circulate in Siberia and Alaska, Arctic-3 viruses circulate circumpolarly, and a newly described lineage Arctic-4 circulates locally in Alaska. The oldest available isolates from Siberia (between 1950 and 1960) belong to the Arctic-2 and Arctic-3 lineages and share 98·6–99·2% N gene identity with contemporary viruses. Two lineages of Arctic-like viruses were identified in southern Asia and the Middle East (Arctic-like-1) and eastern Asia (Arctic-like-2). A time-scaled tree demonstrates that the time of the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) of Arctic and Arctic-like viruses is dated between 1255 and 1786. Evolution of the Arctic viruses has occurred through a northerly spread. The Arctic-like-2 lineage diverged first, whereas Arctic viruses share a TMRCA with Arctic-like-1 viruses.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr I. V. Kuzmin, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd, Bldg 17, MS G-33, Atlanta, GA, 30333, USA. (Email:
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