Molecular evolution and antigenic variation of European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV)

Ana M. Lopes, Lorenzo Capucci, Dolores Gavier-Widén, Ghislaine Le Gall-Reculé, Emiliana Brocchi, Ilaria Barbieri, Agnès Quéméner, Jacques Le Pendu, Jemma L. Geoghegan, Edward C. Holmes, Pedro J. Esteves, Joana Abrantes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV) is the aetiological agent of European brown hare syndrome (EBHS), a disease affecting Lepus europaeus and Lepus timidus first diagnosed in Sweden in 1980. To characterize EBHSV evolution we studied hare samples collected in Sweden between 1982 and 2008. Our molecular clock dating is compatible with EBHSV emergence in the 1970s. Phylogenetic analysis revealed two lineages: Group A persisted until 1989 when it apparently suffered extinction; Group B emerged in the mid-1980s and contains the most recent strains. Antigenic differences exist between groups, with loss of reactivity of some MAbs over time, which are associated with amino acid substitutions in recognized epitopes. A role for immune selection is also supported by the presence of positively selected codons in exposed regions of the capsid. Hence, EBHSV evolution is characterized by replacement of Group A by Group B viruses, suggesting that the latter possess a selective advantage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-112
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Antigenic variation
  • European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV)
  • Evolution


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