Evidence of two distinct phylogenetic lineages of dog rabies virus circulating in Cambodia

Infect Genet Evol. 2016 Mar;38:55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2015.12.011. Epub 2015 Dec 15.


This first extensive retrospective study of the molecular epidemiology of dog rabies in Cambodia included 149 rabies virus (RABV) entire nucleoprotein sequences obtained from 1998-2011. The sequences were analyzed in conjunction with RABVs from other Asian countries. Phylogenetic reconstruction confirmed the South-East Asian phylogenetic clade comprising viruses from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. The present study represents the first attempt to classify the phylogenetic lineages inside this clade, resulting in the confirmation that all the Cambodian viruses belonged to the South-East Asian (SEA) clade. Three distinct phylogenetic lineages in the region were established with the majority of viruses from Cambodia closely related to viruses from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, forming the geographically widespread phylogenetic lineage SEA1. A South-East Asian lineage SEA2 comprised two viruses from Cambodia was identified, which shared a common ancestor with RABVs originating from Laos. Viruses from Myanmar formed separate phylogenetic lineages within the major SEA clade. Bayesian molecular clock analysis suggested that the time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) of all Cambodian RABVs dated to around 1950. The TMRCA of the Cambodian SEA1 lineage was around 1964 and that of the SEA2 lineage was around 1953. The results identified three phylogenetically distinct and geographically separated lineages inside the earlier identified major SEA clade, covering at least five countries in the region. A greater understanding of the molecular epidemiology of rabies in South-East Asia is an important step to monitor progress on the efforts to control canine rabies in the region.

Keywords: Cambodia; Canine rabies; Rabies epidemiology; Rabies virus evolution; South-East Asia.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cambodia / epidemiology
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Dog Diseases / virology*
  • Dogs
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Geography, Medical
  • Nucleocapsid Proteins / genetics
  • Phylogeny*
  • RNA, Viral
  • Rabies / veterinary*
  • Rabies virus / classification*
  • Rabies virus / genetics*
  • Rabies virus / isolation & purification
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Nucleocapsid Proteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • nucleocapsid protein, Rabies virus