Highly Divergent Virulent Isolates of Newcastle Disease Virus From the Dominican Republic Are Members of a New Genotype That May Have Evolved Unnoticed for Over 2 Decades

J Clin Microbiol. 2013 Feb;51(2):508-17. doi: 10.1128/JCM.02393-12. Epub 2012 Nov 28.


A Newcastle disease virus (NDV) outbreak in chickens was reported in the Dominican Republic in 2008. The complete genome of this isolate, chicken/DominicanRepublic(JuanLopez)/499-31/2008 (NDV-DR499-31/08), and the fusion proteins of three other related viruses from the Dominican Republic and Mexico were sequenced and phylogenetically analyzed. Genetically, these four isolates were highly distinct from all other currently known isolates of NDV, and together, they fulfill the newly established criteria for inclusion as a novel genotype of NDV (genotype XVI). The lack of any reported isolation of viruses related to this group since 1986 suggests that virulent viruses of this genotype may have evolved unnoticed for 22 years. The NDV-DR499-31/08 isolate had an intracerebral pathogenicity index (ICPI) score of 1.88, and sequencing of the fusion cleavage site identified multiple basic amino acids and a phenylalanine at position 117, indicating this isolate to be virulent. These results were further confirmed by a clinicopathological assessment in vivo. In 4-week-old chickens, NDV-DR499-31/08 behaved as a velogenic viscerotropic strain with systemic virus distribution and severe necrohemorrhagic lesions targeting mainly the intestine and the lymphoid organs. The clear phylogenetic relationship between the 2008, 1986, and 1947 ancestral viruses suggests that virulent NDV strains may have evolved in unknown reservoirs in the Caribbean and surrounding regions and underlines the importance of continued and improved epidemiological surveillance strategies to detect NDV in wild-bird species and commercial poultry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genome, Viral
  • Genotype*
  • Newcastle Disease / pathology
  • Newcastle Disease / virology
  • Newcastle disease virus / classification
  • Newcastle disease virus / genetics*
  • Newcastle disease virus / pathogenicity
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Poultry Diseases / virology
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / genetics


  • Viral Fusion Proteins
  • Virulence Factors