RNA of more than 40 hantavirus isolates, originating from rodents and humans of widely separated geographical areas, was copied to cDNA using reverse transcriptase and amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). A genus-reactive oligonucleotide primer pair, flanking a 365 bp region of the G2 glycoprotein gene, as chosen for genus-reactive PCR. DNA products were digested with 20 restriction endonucleases and cleavage patterns were analysed. For strains of known sequence, the restriction patterns observed were consistent with those predicted from sequence data, demonstrating that the amplified products originated from target virus RNA. Further analyses suggested that all amplified viruses could be easily typed into one of five restriction patterns using only five enzymes. The categories identified by restriction analysis of PCR-amplified cDNA corresponded with serogroups established by plaque-reduction neutralization tests. This method may greatly simplify the identification of new hantavirus isolates.
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