Eighteen strains of Getah virus isolated from mosquitoes, swine and horses in Japan (1956 to 1981), and one strain isolated in Malaysia (1955), were analysed by RNase T1-resistant oligonucleotide fingerprinting. All fingerprints showed a poly(A) tract. The fingerprint pattern of the Malaysian strain was quite different from those of the Japanese strains. Although most of the recent Japanese isolates shared many large oligonucleotide spots in common, the patterns were not identical even among the strains obtained in one locality in the same year. These results suggest that the Getah virus genome undergoes mutation rather frequently. However, there is a tendency for the isolates of the same year to show greater similarity. The fingerprint patterns of certain host-dependent temperature-sensitive (ts) mutants differed from that of the parental strain. Also, there were some differences in large oligonucleotide spots between strain JaNAr12380M isolated in suckling mouse brain (SMB) and strain JaNAr12380A isolated in C6/36 cells, despite the fact that both strains were derived from the same wild mosquito homogenate. In addition, many host-dependent ts mutants were present in strain JaNAr12380A, whereas no such mutants were observed in strain JaNAr12380M. It is concluded that there is considerable variation in the strains of Getah virus infecting mosquitoes in the wild, and also that the variants or mutants present in mosquitoes might be subject to selection during viral multiplication in the mammalian host.
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