Canine parvovirus (CPV) suddenly appeared in the late 1970s after which it showed continuous antigenic changes virological and molecular genetic analyses mainly focused on feline panleukopenia virus (FPLV) were conducted in this study because FPLV is the suspected ancestor of CPV; the way in which FPLV evolves may help to explain the emergence of CPV. Analysis of escape mutants against FPLV-specific monoclonal antibody showed that viruses possessing CPV-like properties were not easily detected in FPLV virus stocks Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the nonstructural protein 1 (NS1) and capsid protein 2 (VP2) genes of FPLV changed with time. A similar tendency, however, was not observed in the FPLV VP2 proteins. In contrast, the topology of the phylogenetic tree of VP2 proteins of CPV basically concurred with that of the VP2 genes. Analysis of the ratio of nonsynonymous and synonymous substitutions revealed that synonymous substitutions exceeded nonsynonymous substitutions in both the NS1 and VP2 genes of FPLV, even when the analysis focused on specific regions in the VP2 gene that are known to be located on the capsid surface. Comparison of the CPV VP2 genes revealed that nonsynonymous substitution was found to dominate over synonymous substitution in one specific region in the VP2 gene. These results suggested that FPLV has changed mainly by random genetic drift. In contrast, after the appearance of CPV, changes in the CPV VP2 gene appear to be partly selected by certain positive selection forces. CPV and FPLV are known to be closely related viruses genetically and biologically, but the evolutionary mechanisms of the two viruses appeared to be different.
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