The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to amplify portions of the gag and env structural genes of 8 ovine and 1 caprine lentivirus isolates of North American origin. Three sets of primers were used to amplify p16, p25, and Nî-gp40 gene fragments, and 1 set, annealing highly conserved portions of long terminal repeat (LTR) among small ruminant lentiviruses, was used as a positive control. Variable PCR amplification efficiency was observed. Different stringency conditions of hybridization with specific DNA probes were used to maximize detection of the PCR product. The p25 primers detected all strains, the gp40 primers detected 1 ovine and the caprine strain, and the p16 primers detected only 1 ovine isolate. All strains were detected by LTR primers. Restriction endonuclease analysis of 5 amplified p25 and 2 Nî-gp40 gene fragments revealed extensive heterogeneity among these North American small ruminant lentiviruses.
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