The first complete genome sequence and pathogenicity characterization of fowl adenovirus 11 from chickens with inclusion body hepatitis in Pakistan.

Inclusion body hepatitis (IBH), hydropericardium syndrome, and gizzard erosion associated with fowl adenovirus (FAdV) infections are reported globally and resulted in significant poultry industry economic losses. In 2018, severe IBH appeared in Pakistan in a 17-week-old layer flock. Subsequently, a FAdV-11 strain (designated as PKFAd18) was isolated from liver samples and identified based on phylogenetic analyses of the serotype-specific L1 region of the capsid hexon gene.

There is no complete genome sequence of the Pakistani FAdV-11. This study successfully sequenced the complete genome of PKFAd18. The full genome of PKFAd18 contains 43 840 base pairs (bp) with a G + C content of 53.9 %, which is comparable to other FAdV serotypes.

Similar to other FAdV-11 strains, PKFAd18 has only one fiber, while FAdV-1 and FAdV-4 have two fibers. Notably, PKFAd18 showed unique characteristics compared to other FAdV-11 strains. A natural large genomic deletion (1215 bp) appeared in tandem repeat region two, relative to the ON-NP2 strain.

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Phylogenetic analyses of the PKFAd18 penton gene showed higher homology with FAdV-9, highlighting potential natural recombination between FAdV-11 and FAdV-9. Moreover, the pathogenicity of PKFAd18 studied in specific-pathogen-free chickens showed that PKFAd18 is capable of inducing severe IBH and could be responsible for IBH in Pakistan.

Thus, the first complete genome of FAdV-11 in Pakistan was sequenced in this study, which enriches the diversity of knowledge about FAdV-11 and is useful for developing diagnostics and vaccines for IBH induced by FAdV-11 in Pakistan.