Marek's disease virus (MDV) causes immunosuppression and tumors in chickens. As sporadic cases of Marek's disease (MD) were recorded in turkeys, the antigenic and genomic characteristics of the MDV glycoprotein B (gB) gene and antigen of turkeys were compared to the chicken MDV gB.
The whole chicken and turkey gB genes were sequenced and found identical. By immunoblotting of infected-cell culture lysates using chicken convalescent and gB monoclonal antibodies, the antigenic epitopes of the chicken and turkey viruses were found to differ. The turkey MDV had a unique epitope, compared to the chicken MDV and compared with our previous findings. While the chicken MDV had two epitope types, heat-labile but dithiothreitol (DTT)-stable and heat-stable but DTT-labile, the turkey MDV gB epitope is both heat and DTT-labile.