Genetic and ultrastructural characterization of a European isolate of the fatal endotheliotropic elephant herpesvirus

J Gen Virol. 2001 Mar;82(Pt 3):475-482. doi: 10.1099/0022-1317-82-3-475.


A male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) died at the Berlin zoological gardens in August 1998 of systemic infection with the novel endotheliotropic elephant herpesvirus (ElHV-1). This virus causes a fatal haemorrhagic disease in Asian elephants, the so-called endothelial inclusion body disease, as reported from North American zoological gardens. In the present work, ElHV-1 was visualized ultrastructurally in affected organ material. Furthermore, a gene block comprising the complete glycoprotein B (gB) and DNA polymerase (DPOL) genes as well as two partial genes was amplified by PCR-based genome walking and sequenced. The gene content and arrangement were similar to those of members of the Betaherpesvirinae. However, phylogenetic analysis with gB and DPOL consistently revealed a very distant relationship to the betaherpesviruses. Therefore, ElHV-1 may be a member of a new genus or even a new herpesvirus subfamily. The sequence information generated was used to set up a nested-PCR assay for diagnosis of suspected cases of endothelial inclusion body disease. Furthermore, it will aid in the development of antibody-based detection methods and of vaccination strategies against this fatal herpesvirus infection in the endangered Asian elephant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Viral
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / classification
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics
  • Elephants / virology*
  • Endothelium / cytology
  • Endothelium / virology
  • Europe
  • Genes, Viral
  • Glycoproteins / classification
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Hemorrhage / veterinary
  • Hemorrhage / virology
  • Herpesviridae / classification
  • Herpesviridae / genetics*
  • Herpesviridae / isolation & purification
  • Herpesviridae / ultrastructure
  • Herpesviridae Infections / pathology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / veterinary*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies, Viral / pathology
  • Inclusion Bodies, Viral / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / classification
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / genetics


  • DNA, Viral
  • Glycoproteins
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF322977