Journal of NeuroVirology

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 720–729 | Cite as

Genetic characterization of measles virus genotype D6 subacute sclerosing panencephalitis case, Alberta, Canada

  • K. PabbarajuEmail author
  • K. Fonseca
  • S. Wong
  • M. W. Koch
  • J. T. Joseph
  • G. A. Tipples
  • R. Tellier


Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a progressive and eventually fatal neurological disease arising from a persistent infection with measles virus (MV) acquired at a young age. SSPE measles virus strains are defective and unable to produce progeny virions, due to multiple and extensive mutations in a number of key genes. We sequenced the full MV genome from our recently reported SSPE case, which typed as genotype D6, and compared it with other genotype D6 wild type and SSPE sequences. The Alberta D6 strain was significantly different from other reported SSPE D6 sequences. Mutations were observed in all the genes of the Alberta strain, with the greatest sequence divergence noted in the M gene with 17.6% nucleotide and 31% amino acid variation. The L gene showed the least variation with 1.3% nucleotide and 0.7% amino acid differences respectively. The nucleotide variability for 15,672 bases of the complete genome compared to the wild type and other SSPE D6 strains was around 3%.


Measles virus SSPE Biased hypermutation Genotype D6 



In this study, we have determined and characterized the near complete sequence of an SSPE MV strain from a previously reported case. The strain, a genotype D6, is known to cause SSPE but is not the most common genotype reported to do so. Strains of genotype D6 have not circulated in Canada or worldwide for many years, and this supports the remote acquisition of the original infection by the patient. Analysis of the sequence revealed several changes typical of SSPE strains, including mutations that have been previously reported and ones that were unique to our strain. We propose that the unusually great divergence and accumulation of U to C hypermutations is also compatible with a longstanding persistent infection which presented in later adulthood.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Journal of NeuroVirology, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Pabbaraju
    • 1
    Email author
  • K. Fonseca
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. Wong
    • 1
  • M. W. Koch
    • 3
  • J. T. Joseph
    • 4
  • G. A. Tipples
    • 5
    • 6
  • R. Tellier
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Provincial Laboratory for Public HealthCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious DiseasesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Community Health SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.Department of Pathology and Laboratory MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  5. 5.Department of Medical Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  6. 6.Provincial Laboratory for Public HealthEdmontonCanada

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