The murine coronavirus strains MHV JHM, MHV 1, MHV 2, MHV 3 and MHV A59 were tested for their neurovirulence in weanling rats. The strain JHM was found to be highly neurovirulent for weanling rats, whereas the other strains were not, or only slightly, neurovirulent. MHV 1 caused no lesions in weanling rats. The other strains (MHV 2, MHV 3 and MHV A59) induced predominantly subclinical infections in weanling rats as demonstrated by an increase of antibodies and inflammatory lesions in the liver. Analysis of these strains by cross-neutralization revealed variable degrees of antigenic relationship between these viruses which were not related to their neurovirulence. However, when these strains were compared by analysing the T-RNase-resistant oligonucleotides of virion RNA, the highly neurovirulent strain JHM was found to differ significantly in its nucleotide sequence from the other less-neurovirulent strains.


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