Genetic and biological variation in the regulatory protein Rev of equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) were examined throughout a clinically dynamic disease course of an experimentally infected pony. Following infection with the virulent EIAVwyo, the pony underwent a variable disease course, including an acute fever episode at 12 days postinfection (DPI), multiple recurrent fever episodes until 135 DPI, a prolonged subclinical period, and two late fever episodes. Viral RNA was isolated from the inoculum and sequential sera samples, and the rev exon 2/gp45 overlapping ORFs were amplified, cloned, and sequenced. Novel variants were found throughout infection, and genetic analyses indicated that both the Rev and gp45 ORFs were under selective pressure. The Rev variant predominant in the inoculum, R1, remained predominant during the early periods following infection (until 35 DPI); however, R1 was replaced by new predominant variants during the recurrent fever period (67-135 DPI). R1 reemerged as the predominant variant during the afebrile period, but a new predominant variant, R93, was associated with the late fever episodes. Rev variants predominant during recurrent febrile and late-febrile periods had significantly higher Rev-mediated nuclear export activity than the variants predominant during the acute and afebrile periods. Statistical correlation was found between Rev activity and different stages of clinical disease. Together, these results suggest that genetic and biological variation in rev may be a contributing factor in EIAV disease progression.
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