Nucleotide sequences of two extended segments of the terminal variable regions in variola virus genome were determined. The size of the left segment was 13.5 kbp and of the right, 10.5 kbp. Totally, over 540 kbp were sequenced for 22 variola virus strains. The conducted phylogenetic analysis and the data published earlier allowed us to find the interrelations between 70 variola virus isolates, the character of their clustering, and the degree of intergroup and intragroup variations of the clusters of variola virus strains. The most polymorphic loci of the genome segments studied were determined. It was demonstrated that that these loci are localized to either noncoding genome regions or to the regions of destroyed open reading frames, characteristic of the ancestor virus. These loci are promising for development of the strategy for genotyping variola virus strains. Analysis of recombination using various methods demonstrated that, with the only exception, no statistically significant recombinational events in the genomes of variola virus strains studied were detectable.
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